Five on Your Side has learned new information about possible radioactive contamination in St. Louis County.
On April 30 The Missouri Department of Natural Resources tested storm water runoff near the radioactive West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton and found a level of radiation that has people living nearby concerned.
The testing was done during heavy rains and the state's lab found levels of gross Alpha radiation in the runoff that's higher than what's allowed in drinking water. The state’s maximum contaminant level for alpha radiation in drinking water is 15 Pico Curies per liter. The tests yielded a result of 15.65 pCi/L.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the West Lake Landfill, says ingesting Alpha particles can be harmful. While the agency believes the storm water flows through drainage ditches and into a nearby pond, officials couldn't absolutely rule out the possibility of the radioactive particles reaching drinking water sources in the nearby Missouri River.
That's troubling to people who know about the radioactive waste buried at the landfill.
“We know this stuff is highly soluble in water. These wastes will accumulate someplace and we're wondering what that's going to mean for those of us downstream,” said Doug Clemens, chairman of the Bridgeton and West Lake Landfill Community Advisory Group. The group works closely with the EPA to spread information to people living and working near the sites.
"This is not drinking water and drinking water standards are inapplicable. We don't see anything of concern in these results, nor did MDNR express any concern when it posted them," said Russ Knocke, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs with Republic Services. "We support the further testing to provide yet more proof that the site is safe. Capping the site will eliminate community concerns like this once and for all."
The state's testing did not connect the Alpha particles to Radium or Uranium, two of the specific kinds of radioactive waste found in the landfill. Further testing is being done to learn whether the particles could be the result of Thorium, another waste buried at West Lake. No word yet on when those results will be released.