New draft documents released by the EPA show unnecessary excavation at the West Lake Landfill will increase risks to Missourians including local workers and add years to the cleanup process at the site.
The draft documents, posted by EPA Region 7 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, compare a variety of options to clean-up the site including a permanent cap and partial to full excavation of the landfill near Bridgeton, Mo.
The Coalition to Keep Us Safe, an organization of law enforcement, elected officials, farmers and other community leaders have been advocating for a quick and permanent solution to cleaning up the Landfill since 2014. The group has long promoted the cap alternative as the safest and fastest way to clean up the site.
“Any type of excavation at the West Lake Landfill puts Missourians at unnecessary risk,” Molly Teichman, the Executive Director of the Coalition to Keep Us Safe, said. “We have long advocated against excavation plans because it delays cleanup and typically leaves taxpayers footing the bill.”
Based on data from potentially responsible parties at the site, the documents prove any type of excavation at the site has negative impacts to the local area as compared to a permanent cap.
One document in particular, Table ES-1, served as a summary of potential risks, implementation schedules and estimated costs. It compared a cap for the landfill as previously approved in 2008, two partial excavation alternatives and a complete excavation of the entire site.
The cap alternative was estimated as the fastest cleanup alternative for the site at 2.7 years. Other alternatives, were estimated at around 6 to 13 years. Many have estimated that a full excavation of the West Lake Landfill, if placed under FUSRAP oversight, could take approximately 40 years due to federal government budget realities.
If the site were transferred to FUSRAP and oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers, estimated cost of the complete excavation option could exceed $620 million.
Risks of transportation accidents also increase with excavation options. A full excavation option considered by the EPA is 54 times more likely to include transportation accidents than a cap, creating unnecessary risks for hundreds of Missouri communities for several years.
“The data does not support excavation and the people cannot support any more delays,” added Teichman. “There is a protest culture in the state, backed by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, that want to keep this issue alive for their own political interests.”
“Anyone delaying the cleanup and advocating for excavation at the West Lake Landfill is putting the rest of us at risk,” concluded Teichman.