West Lake Landfill owner wants drug manufacturer on hook for part of cleanup

   

ST. LOUIS — The owners of the West Lake Landfill are suing a drug manufacturer that processed uranium for the Manhattan Project to help pay for the cleanup of the site.

On Tuesday, Bridgeton Landfill LLC, a subsidiary of Republic Services, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri against Mallinckrodt LLC seeking the company help pay for the cleanup of the West Lake Landfill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently made the decision to move roughly 70 percent of the waste from the site used for disposal for the World War II-era program that produced the first nuclear weapon.

The plan is expected to be carried out within four years and cost $205 million — the owner of the landfill and parties deemed responsible for the contamination will fund the cleanup. Currently, Bridgeton Landfill will share the cost of the project with the U.S. Department of Energy and Cotter Corporation.

“Mallinckrodt, a prime participant in the war effort that led to the contamination of West Lake Landfill, belongs at this table. We have asked a federal court to include them,” said Richard Callow, a spokesperson for Bridgeton Landfill.

Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, the predecessor of Mallinckrodt LLC, processed uranium at its facility in St. Louis that was used in the Manhattan Project. The company was not named by the EPA as a potentially responsible party for the contamination.

The nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project was illegally dumped on the 200 acres that make up the West Lake Landfill in the 1970s.

The EPA said 8,700 tons of radioactive leached barium sulfate residues from the nuclear bomb program was mixed with 39,000 tons of potentially contaminated surface soil in 1973, long before Republic Services became the owner. The EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List in 1990.

Bridgeton Landfill is seeking to add Mallinckrodt as a party responsible for the cleanup of the site. According to the lawsuit, from 1946 to 1957 Mallinckrodt Chemical Works refined uranium compounds at its factory in St. Louis. The hazardous materials were originally stored at the St. Louis Airport Storage Site then moved in 1966 to a storage site in Hazelwood known as the “Latty Avenue Site,” and then moved to the West Lake Landfill.

The lawsuit does not specify how much the Bridgeton Landfill is seeking from the drug manufacturer to help pay for the cleanup.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.