Residents of Bridgeton, Missouri should be worried about serious potential health hazards tied to an increasingly smelly landfill. So says a coalition of environmental activists who are spreading the word about a possible "dirty bomb" or chemical threat related to radioactivity on the site.
Officials behind the landfill, however, say that residents have something else they should be more worried about: activists spreading lies.
The fight around the Bridgeton Landfill, which has gotten a lot of attention for its awful stink, came to a head on Friday when environmental advocates met with officials to present their concerns about potential hazards. And in response, the company that operates the landfill sent out multiple press releases with some pretty harshly worded rebuttals -- and direct attacks on those speaking out.
See also: - Bridgeton Odor: Landfill Company "Very Sorry" About Bad Smells, Working on Solution - Bridgeton Landfill: Really Awful Smell Not A Health Hazard, But Still Stinky - Bridgeton Landfill: We All "Want the Same Thing: To Dramatically Reduce the Odor"
"They are portraying it as, 'Everything is going to be fine,'" Ed Smith, safe energy director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment tells Daily RFT. "But we need a better understanding of what the heck is going on."
The business in question is Republic Services, the parent company of Bridgeton Landfill LLC, which operates the site that has been in the news for several months due to the putrid smells that are so bad some residents have said they can't escape the stench even inside their homes. The company is based out of Arizona.
But environmental groups say that it's much more than just a bad smell that residents should be worried about. Fire and nuclear weapons wastes at the West Lake Landfill, which sits right next to the smelly Bridgeton landfill, could prove to be a very dangerous combination, they say. Republic Services is one of several entities responsible for the West Lake Landfill.
There is heat being generated at the Bridgeton landfill, which officials admit, but the activists, with support from expert testimony, argue that this heat and the nearby radioactivity could together become very hazardous.
The Coalition for the Environment says in its news release:
Radioactive wastes dumped at the West Lake Landfill in 1973 sit in the Missouri River floodplain with no protective barriers between the wastes and the groundwater. The site is located 8 river miles upstream from where drinking water is pulled for more than 300,000 North St. Louis County residents.
"We all have members that live and work and play around this landfill," says Smith. "Republic's duty is to out-of-town investors."
The coalition, alongside Missouri Jobs with Justice and Teamsters Union, is urging elected officials to recognize the potential risks at this site and encourage government agencies to hire independent experts to analyze air quality and other conditions at the site.
Republic Services, the groups argue, needs a concrete plan to stop the landfill fire and needs to ensure that the area is secure from chemical and radioactive exposures. These activists -- their full demands on view below -- are also calling for increased transparency and "taxpayer protection" so that Republic Services would pay for all costs related to testing and remediation.
What does the company have to say about these accusations and demands?
Continue for the lengthy response from Republic Services and the full report from activists.
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