After plans regarding the separation of the West Lake and the Bridgeton landfill from each other have been discussed for over two years, the EPA finally decides to enclose the West Lake nuclear waste landfill. Even if this decision was made on Thursday, the process of installing a barrier over the landfill will take at least a couple of months.
The reason why the West Lake landfill will be enclosed is because the Bridgeton side is constantly burning and smoldering, with a high chance of propagating the fire within its neighbor. This will greatly impact the environment and the Missouri citizens near the location, with further long term effects that might even become irreparable.
The nuclear waste present at the bottom of the landfill dates back to the Manhattan Project back in the 1970s. The company that owns both landfills, Republic Services, claims that the fire has no chance of spreading to the bottom of the West Lake landfill, but environmentalists disagree completely. And no wonder, considering the fact that even if there is a 5% chance that the nuclear waste would catch fire, its impact will be tremendous.
One major problem that this project currently faces is the fact that the EPA is in conflict with the company which oversees the barrier’s construction in regards to legal agreements. Either way, at least, the decision has still been made, signaling environmentalists that the EPA is keeping to its prior promise of dealing with the situation.
Previous attempts to construct a fire barrier between the two were halted after information regarding the extent of nuclear waste contamination was deemed inconclusive, urging for further inquiries on the subject to be made. But with the help of the US Army Corps of Engineers, EPA’s assessments are close to being finished.
Once legal agreements have been decided upon, as well as discerning the exact path of the firebreak barrier, the EPA will release all the required information to the public. The construction’s start and its timeline are still being discussed with the Republic Services, but they will more than likely conclude in 2016.
The concept of constructing cooling loops, which are constantly fueled with water in order to control temperatures, has also been regarded as viable. This even reached a point where the wall could no longer be required, but that plan was allegedly dismissed, with the final iteration consisting of a firebreak wall with added cooling loops.
Although the EPA finally decides to enclose the West Lake nuclear waste landfill, this fact might also mean that the agency considers leaving the waste there, instead of removing it. This might be rather plausible if one would take into account that researchers do not know how much the radioactive waste has spread in the past 40 years. The plan of building an insulating wall will remove the odds of these contaminants catching fire, as well as letting the EPA think about a future waste removal project if the need arises.