BRIDGETON, Mo. — Missouri test results reveal that stormwater from just outside a landfill complex contains radioactive contaminants.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources found levels of alpha particles that exceeded the threshold allowed in drinking water outside the West Lake Landfill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2tDXjKI ) reported.
Environmental Protection Agency officials said the data doesn’t signal a public health risk because stormwater doesn’t represent a source of drinking water. Alpha particles are a form of radiation that needs to be ingested to pose a significant health threat.
“This is not drinking water and drinking water standards are inapplicable,” said Russ Knocke, spokesman for Republic Services, the landfill’s operator. “We don’t see anything of concern in these results, nor did DNR express any concern when it posted them.”
EPA officials also said that without further investigation, there’s no established connection between the radioactivity found in the tests and the landfill’s contents.
“It doesn’t necessarily fingerprint it to the landfill,” said Curtis Carey, public affairs director for EPA Region 7.
The natural resources department said the alpha readings released last month couldn’t be attributed to uranium and radium that were tested for, so the department is conducting additional tests for thorium as a potential cause for high particle levels.
The landfill was a dumping ground for Manhattan Project-era radioactive waste. The EPA has been overseeing the cleanup of the landfill through its Superfund program, and it’s partly financed through Republic Services.
Because of frequent heavy rains, others have said that the test results point to another avenue for contamination if waste isn’t fully removed through the cleanup.
“It’s always been our opinion that this stuff needs to be removed,” said Ed Smith, policy director for Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “There are plenty of examples in the historical record of how radioactive material could’ve moved off-site at the landfill.”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com