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State to Test "Smelly" Air from Bridgeton Landfill

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Monday, February 4, 2013   

ST. LOUIS - The Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, just north of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, has been smoldering underground since last summer, and people who live nearby say the air seems to be getting worse. They've been calling and complaining about headaches and illnesses for months and, after much coaxing by environmentalists, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, on Friday agreed to test the air.

Kathleen Logan Smith, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said the phones at her organization have been ringing like crazy.

"They're complaining of sickness and symptoms, and pets are getting sick, and people are getting sick," she said.

The company that owns the landfill tested the air once, last August, but people say it seems to be getting worse and they've been asking for more testing to find out if their health is at risk. Late last week, the St. Louis County Department of Health inspected the landfill and found the odors in violation of air quality standards. On Friday the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued an order accusing the Bridgeton Landfill of creating a public nuisance. DNR said it will do its own air testing and require the company to reimburse the state for the cost.

People who live in the area have told Kathleen Logan Smith that they don't know whether they should even let their children play outside.

"People need some information about how to keep their families healthy and safe at a time when they could be breathing carcinogens," said Smith.

She's looking for more transparency on the part of Bridgeton Landfill and the state.

"I want them to tell people what they're being exposed to," Smith asserted. "I want them to update people on the progress at the site because fighting a landfill fire is a long-term, challenging project."

The landfill is located next to a Superfund site containing radioactive waste, and officials said the underground fire has not spread there.

Republic Services, which owns the landfill, said it's upgrading its gas-management systems and issued a statement last month apologizing for "the inconvenience." The results of the new round of air testing will be sent to the Missouri Health Department to evaluate public health concerns.

DNR information is at dnr.mo.gov.




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