The EPA’s National Remedy and Review Board released a document last Thursday that called removal of toxic waste at West Lake Landfill “feasible.” It gave a summary of its recommendations for the area, many of which were in direct opposition to what the EPA has been saying about the site for years. Just Moms STL, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and other groups have requested the document over the past three years under the Freedom of Information Act, but the EPA has denied them the document.
Now, as the document is released, it’s more clear why the EPA was so resistant to these groups seeing it in the first place. Since 2008, the EPA’s plan has been to put a cap on the site, containing the waste but not providing a long-term solution. The EPA and landfill owner Republic Services had cited that the cap would cost ten times less than removing the waste, and that the waste couldn’t be removed safely for workers or the community. The report, however, completely discredits those statements. It says that removal would be safe for workers and provide a long-term solution for the community, and that EPA region 7 overestimated the costs of removal on several fronts.
Just Moms STL have been advocating for removal for years. They recognized that a safe and permanent solution was the best way to protect the community now and in the long-term, especially given the history of the area. Some of the victims of West Lake are former victims of Coldwater creek, a nearby nuclear toxic dump site. Now that the National Review Board document has been released saying that removal is feasible after all, the community is angry. They should have had this information years ago.
If the EPA has known for three years that removal of the waste is the best option, why haven’t they done anything to start that process? It’s time for the EPA to recognize their failure on West Lake, and to abandon the plan to cap the landfill.