Additional testing will be done at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. The EPA announcement indicated that the “design phase” for planning how to excavate the bulk of the site’s radioactivity is now expected to take longer than the roughly 18-month window originally intended for it. Starting now, that planning process is projected to take two-and-a-half to three years, regional EPA officials say.
Dawn Chapman, co-founder of the local volunteer group, Just Moms STL, which closely follows developments at West Lake, said that while that work may lengthen the planning phase, the “measure twice, cut once” approach may speed up the ensuing actions to excavate radioactive material from the site, before shipping it to a licensed out-of-state storage facility.
Regional EPA officials expressed the same optimism, explaining that a longer but more careful design phase could allow for greater efficiencies farther down the road, during the site’s remediation. The agency said that would likely mean that, during excavation, the landfill would be open for a shorter amount of time, thereby reducing risk to workers or the community.
Wednesday’s announced start of the design phase relied on EPA reaching an agreement with the entities on the hook to pay for the site’s cleanup — often called “Potentially Responsible Parties.” Chapman said there is still some concern in the community that, going forward, those parties may not agree to the $205 million remedy, itself.