Underground Fire threatens St Louis With Radioactive Fallout

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Just 1,200 feet across each other, underneath a landfill area in St. Louis, two things lurk that should never meet: a slow-burning fire and a cache of Cold War-era nuclear waste.

As anxiety increases near the Bridgeton Landfill neighborhoods, the discomfort stems from the newly released emergency plans.

Government officials have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially “catastrophic event” that could send up a plume of radioactive smoke over a densely populated area near the city’s main airport.

County Executive Steve Stenger cautioned that the plan “is not an indication of any imminent danger.”

“It is county government’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of all St. Louis County residents,” he said in a statement.

The cities of Bridgeton, Hazelwood, Maryland Heights, Champ and St. Charles would be “directly affected,” the plan says.  It details an evacuation plan, communication, and other responses.

The EPA has said it doesn’t believe the radioactive waste would be spread via the air, although there would be an increase in radon gas.

LaVanchy, the assistant Pattonville chief, said he has taught firefighter training and worked closely with St. Louis County to develop the plan.  Still, he said, it’s more of a guideline for first responders.

“That situation at the landfill is so dynamic; you can’t prepare for every single possibility that’s out there,” he said.  “That document, for all intents and purposes, is to give first responders a heads up, a leg up.”

Source: stltodaystarherald

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