BRIDGETON, Mo. – As the EPA moves to begin cleanup at the West Lake Landfill, members of the community say they’re happy to at least have some sort of resolution after decades of fighting for their health; but they still have some concerns.
The EPA says it wants to get started on the cleanup as soon as possible and it should take about three years for the work to be completed.
And while community activists say Thursday’s announcement is a success, they believe there’s a long way to go.
“There are billion-dollar corporations that are so angry today over the decision that came out today. A small group of people from Bridgeton and the surrounding area can move many mountains," said one supporter.
Workers will continue to chip away at the toxic heaps at West Lake Landfill.
The EPA announced Thursday it hopes to remove at least 70 percent of radioactive waste from the site where waste from the Manhattan Project was illegally dumped back in the 1970s.
“We had nosebleeds, we had headaches; I had rashes, I had all of my fish die and my fishpond, and they just kept telling us everything is great,” said one resident.
The group Just Moms STL has been leading the fight for cleanup. It supports the $205 million plan proposed by the EPA, but it still has some concerns over air and water quality.
“The monitors that exist now are owned and operated by the owner of the landfill which I have a problem with as well," said a state representative.
“Make it have to be disclosed if you’re going to buy a home in Spanish Village. It does not have to be disclosed right now," said a homeowner.
A new report released last week by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which has been studying the exposure impact since 2013 found that, "In the past, air near the landfill may have harmed the health of people living or working at near the landfill."
“The fact that they sat there knowing that we were being poisoned all this time and then all the sudden decide now to tell us that we’ve been poisoned," one woman said.
“We don’t want to be sacrificial lambs anymore. We want out of there get us the hell out,” exclaimed one man.
“You need to step up and help yourself going forward because these agencies are not going to do it for you," said a group leader.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will have a meeting sometime in October where it will take comments from the public about their health and other concerns. It will go on the record as these agencies work to monitor the landfill.