The half-life of the radioactive material in the West Lake landfill in northwest St. Louis County is thousands of years. The controversy over how to deal with it is heading in that direction.
The EPA thinks its solution of covering the top of the landfill is the best possible action, but local activists object to leaving radioactive waste not protected underneath by any kind of liner, especially on a floodplain a few miles above the drinking water intake for North St. Louis County. They want it moved.
The Beacon article quoted above also quotes Washington University hydrologist Robert Criss:
“It’s like putting shingles on your house when you need a basement,” Criss said. “A top cover would help, but that’s not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is that the landfill is unlined. The stuff’s in the wrong place. We have poorly characterized radioactive waste in the floodplain in an unlined landfill. There is no putting stuff on the top that changes that.”
To keep their protest alive, activists convinced members of the County Council–all of them!–to pass a resolution asking the EPA to turn the site over to the Corps of Engineers, in hopes that the Corps, which has handled radioactive waste sites before, would choose the move the waste. The EPA, though, says Westlake is a Superfund site, and it intends to maintain control of it. If so, it will continue to face intense objections. The County Council will put its resolution before all members of the Missouri Congressional delegation–here’s a shovel ready project, Claire–as well as before Governor Nixon.
The Beacon did a fine job of contacting interested parties and representing their views. I recommend reading it.