On October 19 Bridgeton residents had the opportunity to express concerns about the West Lake Landfill at a listening session that included Albert Kelly, the EPA senior advisor to Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Cathy Stepp, the new acting regional representative.
The Franciscan Sisters of Mary, longtime advocates for the cleanup of the illegally dumped radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, were present in support of JustMomsStl, the Community Advisory Group that addresses the West Lake issue, and others. Sisters Sherri Coleman, Jeanne Derer, André Evanicsko, Vicki Ewers, Irma Kennebeck, Mary Jo Schieber, and Sandy Schwartz attended.
Nearly forty participants were able to describe their experiences and concerns about exposure to West Lake’s massive deposits of radioactive waste. In 2010, noxious odors arising from an underground fire in the adjoining Bridgeton Landfill that was moving toward the radioactive wastes raised pubic concerns and outcry.
Up until this gathering, the EPA’s responses to the community’s concerns about West Lake had been deflective at best. At this meeting, Mr. Kelly apologized for the community’s sufferings over the past seven years. He assured those gathered that West Lake was near the top of the EPA’s priorities and that a resolution would be delivered to the community within the next several months. He also said that the EPA would be expanding testing to include more areas that the community suspects contain radioactive material.
The Franciscan Sisters of Mary, along with JustMomsStl, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Community Advisory Group, and others, have long advocated for the complete removal of the radioactive waste at West Lake and a voluntary buyout for residents closest to the landfill.
Since 2012, the FSM have been holding a twice-monthly prayer vigil near the West Lake Landfill, praying for decisions about the landfills that best serve the common good. Vigils take place the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month and are open to the public. For more information, call (314) 768-1824 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.