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Consultant says underground fire at Bridgeton landfill in eastern Missouri is moving

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BRIDGETON, Missouri — A state-hired consultant said an underground fire smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill in eastern Missouri is moving closer to another landfill that contains radioactive waste.

But Todd Thalhamer's report contradicts statements from Republic Services, which owns the Bridgeton landfill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/ZacqJy ). The company said the fire is being managed and there was little chance it would head toward the West Lake Landfill, where the radioactive waste is buried.

Thalhamer's report, dated Aug. 29, said July and August temperature and gas data collected at the Bridgeton Landfill indicate the subsurface smoldering is expanding toward a quarry next to the West Lake landfill.

In a June report, he said he was concerned the reaction could spread past the last line of heat reduction devices, but he couldn't say "conclusively" it had.

He said more data is needed, but that "based on the above trends, the smoldering event is at or just past" the devices.

Republic Services spokesman Russ Knocke disputed Thalhamer's report, saying the company's investigation determined the subsurface smoldering is moving away from the West Lake landfill. He said the monitors cited by Thalhamer vary in temperature and readings.

"When one looks at the entirety of data points, it's simply a mistake to reach that conclusion," Knocke said.

Residents have worried for years the underground smoldering could reach the West Lake Landfill, where radioactive waste was dumped 40 years ago.

Jim Teter is managing the landfill project for Republic. He said last month the reaction was not headed toward the landfill and "we've never seen them reverse direction."

Republic Services said a year ago it would build a barrier between the two landfills. The proposal is still awaiting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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