Bridgeton Landfill: After Rain, Smell Will Get a Lot Worse Due to "Odor Reduction" Efforts

click to enlarge Worker at Bridgeton landfill. - via
Worker at Bridgeton landfill.

To make the smelly landfill in Bridgeton less smelly, officials are first going to have to make it "significantly" more smelly.

That's right: An "odor reduction" plan requires a major increase in the odors they are trying to stop.

But there is some good news. The odor-increasing odor-reduction effort that was supposed to begin this week has been delayed because of the rain, which means residents may have a few more days of just the generally bad odors before the really terrible -- but necessary! -- odors take over. Hooray!

In case you haven't been following too closely, a quick recap.

There's a really terrible stench in Bridgeton. It's so bad that brave news photographers sent to cover the story can barely handle it, and residents reportedly can't even escape the smell inside their own homes.

The smell is coming from a landfill that is struggling with some sort of underground fire -- and environmental activists worry that nearby radioactivity could lead to a so-called "dirty bomb."

The company behind the landfill, Republic Services, has said it is working to reduce the smell and address all environmental concerns, though the problem is serious enough that the attorney general's office has intervened and is formally suing the company.

Republic Services on Friday announced that it would begin the "next phase of improvements that will lead to a significant reduction of the odor" starting this week. That project, though, is temporarily on hold due to rain. An update is expected later this week.

When the project begins, officials say it will constitute "intensive work" that requires excavating small sections of the landfill to remove reinforced concrete pipe sections. The news release says:

As a result, this work will significantly increase the odor for employees, local businesses and residents.

This is the "reinforced concrete pipe abandonments" phase, and officials say that they will monitor air quality during this process, which will last about a week.

Here is the official statement from Tim Trost, area president for Republic Services:

This key phase of work is really about making the site safer for all onsite workers, and will need to be completed to prepare the landfill surface for an additional plastic cap on the south quarry.

And Matt LaVanchy, assistant Pattonville fire chief:

I know the odor will be bad for all of us but this excavation is something that I personally requested. This action takes care of two major problems - first, it eliminates a safety hazard that could cause future accidents, and second, and most important to the residents, the removal of the RCPs creates a smooth subgrade to ensure the plastic cap doesn't tear. This work is absolutely required for the landfill to finish its efforts to dramatically reduce the odors.

If you're not a fan of the it-must-get-worse-before-it-gets-better thing...pray for rain.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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