Backyard Talk

West Lake Landfill has to be a St. Louis issue, not just a Bridgeton issue

westlake blows everywhere

The two smoldering landfills in Bridgeton, Missouri have forced the community around them to take action. Just Moms STL, a group headed by area moms Karen Nickel and Dawn Chapman, has executed steps from community phone calls to representatives to meeting with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to discuss relocation. The group and the problem have attracted national attention, and yet the Bridgeton and West Lake Landfills seems to remain a Bridgeton issue in the eyes of many St. Louisans—not a St. Louis issue. This has to change.
It’s easy for the issue to remain localized for several reasons. First, St. Louisans can dismiss the landfills as a problem only for those who live near them. Since most St. Louis residents aren’t currently experiencing the health effects or odor of the landfills, they don’t have the constant reminder of the danger there. Last fall, St. Louis County released emergency evacuation plans, and rumors flew about the possibility of radioactive waste being spread by wind throughout the whole of St. Louis. But after these scares died down, most of St. Louis put West Lake on the back burner.
Bridgeton residents continue to push forward on the issue, and the rest of St. Louis needs to do the same. The question of unity continues to dog the city, as it has for so many things. The Greater St. Louis area is separated into St. Louis City and St. Louis County, a divide that hurts both sides. The county is further divided into municipalities, which have their own semi-independent jurisdiction. The problems in this division and hierarchy were demonstrated, for example, during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014. Ferguson as a municipality, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City were all at odds for authority, and they, especially in regards to their separate police, failed to coordinate.
In that case, however, St. Louis residents did recognize that Black Lives Matter was not just a Ferguson issue—it was a city-wide, nation-wide issue. The movement was not limited to Ferguson, and actions occurred across the city and county. The same needs to happen for the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills. Republic dumpsters are in every other alley in St. Louis city. Republic has sites not only in Bridgeton, but in Cahokia, South County, and North City. St. Louis residents have to realize that the landfills are an issue for the whole of St. Louis and rally around leaders like Just Moms STL.

Homepage News Archive

Activists target fracking waste on Tuesday’s action day

Bob Downing, Akron Beacon Journal. In Ohio, environmental agencies including CHEJ are organizing educational events in order to inspire a change in the fracking industry. These events will be held on the National Day of Action on Tuesday, June 7th.
From a Thursday press release:

Groups Call for a Halt to Toxic Fracking Waste and Man-made Earthquakes in a National Day of Action to be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ohio, June 2, 2016 – Even though unconventional fracking currently appears to be experiencing a shale bust, the toxic fracking waste problem is still here and getting worse as millions of gallons and tons of fracking waste is constantly being created, according to groups organizing a National Day of Action to be held on June 7, 2016.
       On June 7th, groups and concerned citizens in about twelve states will call for a halt to toxic fracking waste and related man-made earthquakes in an event titled “Freedom From Toxic Fracking Waste and Earthquakes: National Day of Action.”
       One of the major concerns the groups want to address is:
Where is all of the fracking waste going when there is no good or safe way to handle it that effectively protects public health, safety, and well-being?
       On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, a national coalition of local coordinators and groups will hold rallies or actions throughout the day to shine light on the numerous problems associated with toxic, radioactive fracking waste and its “disposal,” including its links to earthquakes, spills, and leaks.  They say the pollution risks to water, air, and land due to toxic fracking waste are unacceptable. Events being planned include a tour of waste sites, “toxic tea parties,” rallies, and presentations.
      “We know there are injection and disposal wells being permitted in rural and residential areas way too close to homes and communities. This is not progress. Such toxic waste operations, located anywhere, pose unacceptable levels of risks including spills, decreased property values, man-made earthquakes, lightning-related explosions, and pollution of drinking water, air, and soil.  It’s time for industry and government to own up to the fact that unacceptable impacts are occurring related to fracking waste. You cannot regulate earthquakes, for example. The only real answer to this huge fracking waste problem is to stop this madness and really protect public health, safety, and well-being, “said Teresa Mills of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), founded by Lois Gibbs of Love Canal renown.
       The groups say, contrary to some reports that may seek to minimize the induced seismicity problem, man-made earthquakes are not necessarily small. Scientists have linked a magnitude 5.6 quake in Prague, Oklahoma in 2011 to waste injection.  A Canadian earthquake of magnitude 4.4 was reported as being “triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing,” according to a CBC News report by Betsy Trumpener (8/27/2015, “Fracking triggered 2014 earthquake in northeastern B.C.”).
        The June 7th National Day of Action is being coordinated by Buckeye Forest Council (BFC), The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future (FaCT), Frackfree America National Coalition (FANC), Network for Oil & Gas Accountability & Protection, (NEOGAP) and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).
       Coordinators say there is still time for more individuals or groups to get involved in the events planned for June 7, 2016, by contacting Frackfree America National Coalition at:
234-201-8007 or by e-mail at
       More information about the June 7, 2016 National Day of Action can be found at the following website address and Facebook Event page:—details-and-updates
       For media inquiries or for more information on fracking and related processes, toxic fracking waste, or how to coordinate or participate in a local rally or action, contact us by phone at 234-201-8007 or by e-mail .

To read the original article click here.

Backyard Talk

A World Free of Nuclear Weapons Must Also Begin At Home

By Jacob Metz
Last week, President Obama became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, one of only two sites directly targeted by nuclear warfare. He used the trip to promote his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, encouraging the global community to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear” and to eliminate nuclear stockpiles from military arsenals. We would do well to heed Obama’s call to work towards a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. But a world free from nuclear weapons must also mean a world free from dangerous nuclear waste situated near our communities.
In 1942, the St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Chemical Works became one of the main processors of uranium ore for the Manhattan Project, the government-sponsored project tasked with developing nuclear weaponry for use in World War II. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Mallinckrodt Chemical Works played a large role in the production of weapons-grade uranium, from the end of World War II to the height of the Cold War in 1957. The heightened focus on the possibility of war combined with a rudimentary scientific understanding of the health effects of radioactivity meant that little attention was devoted to figuring out how to safely dispose of the radioactive waste.
After the 1950s, the radioactive waste changed hands several times around the St. Louis area before falling under the supervision of the Cotter Corporation, which illegally disposed of the waste in the West Lake Landfill. Though dumped nearly fifty years ago, the nuclear waste still remains in the West Lake Landfill today, posing a direct threat to the public health and local environment of nearby Bridgeton, Missouri.
Despite the consistent efforts of local activists like Dawn Chapman and Karen Nichols to call for the complete removal of the waste, the EPA has stalled and not used its full authority to properly and efficiently remediate the site through the Superfund law. The content of the West Lake Landfill is already strongly believed by residents to be linked to cases of cancer in the community, especially since a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services report claims that the exact same waste in nearby Coldwater Creek was linked to statistically higher rates of cancer in surrounding zip codes.
Local Bridgeton residents want jurisdiction over the clean-up of the site to be transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency which has already successfully remediated other St. Louis sites affected by the same nuclear waste. Congress must pass S. 2306 to transfer authority of the clean-up to the Army Corps of Engineers and to protect the health of Bridgeton residents. As we contemplate the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must remember that nuclear weapons threaten the lives of civilians both through their use in war as well as through their domestic production.

Backyard Talk

We Are Winning With Renewables

The U.S. electric grid added more than 70 times as much renewable energy capacity as natural gas capacity from January to March 2016. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) reports no new capacity of coal, oil, or nuclear power were added in the first quarter of the year. I know there are many factors in addition to our efforts at the street that makes this possible but you – our grassroots field fighters – can take some credit for this accomplishment.
Today, renewables make up 18 percent of total U.S. installed generating capacity. This is a low number as FERC doesn’t include solar energy on rooftops across America. They only include large scale solar units.
According to an article in Climate by Joe Romm, “There is increasingly clear that we don’t need to add significant amounts of any new grid capacity that isn’t renewable for the foreseeable future. In part that’s because demand for utility power generation has been flat for almost a decade — and should continue plateauing for quite some time — thanks to rapidly growing energy efficiency measures (and, to a much lesser extent, thanks to recent increases in rooftop solar).  We also know that renewable power — both new wind and solar — is now winning bids for new generation around the world without subsidies.  Some bids are coming in at under four cents per kilowatt hour!
This is all good news. What isn’t is that the oil and gas industry still wants to drill, frack and export our fossil fuels. In New Bedford, Texas, Maryland, Oregon and other ports along our coasts are export terminals planned to take America’s resources and ship them overseas. What ever happened to our energy security? So that big oil and gas can increase their profits, the American people lose not only energy security but also the destruction of our water, land and the public’s health.
This is an election year and we – the people – have an opportunity to ask all candidates as they knock on our doors or rally in the park where they stand on destroying our environment and harming public health to export our resources and make big oil/gas richer. I personally think it is un-American hurt our families, environment and not keep the fossil fuels in the ground until just in case Americans need them.