Energy & Environment

EPA announces plan to remove Manhattan Project nuclear waste from Missouri site

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new plans Thursday to partially remove toxic waste from a decades-old nuclear site in Missouri, a decision that highlights Administrator Scott Pruitt’s vow to make Superfunds a 2018 priority.

The proposed remedy would both remove a majority of the radioactive waste linked to the Manhattan Project at the West Lake Landfill and construct a cap over the area. The EPA says the project is expected to cost $236 million and take five years to implement.

“This decision demonstrates my vision for the Superfund program. Through leadership and responsiveness to communities, we will make decisions that protect public health, comply with the law, and hold potentially responsible parties accountable,” Pruitt said in a statement.

{mosads}For Bridgeton, Mo., residents who have been fighting to have the nuclear waste removed since the site was identified in 1970, the decision will be a welcome relief amidst public health and safety concerns. Until now the nuclear waste at Westlake has been contained on site and the surrounding area has been routinely monitored for ground water contamination.

The site has been on the Superfund National Priorities List since 1990. In December, the EPA named the sites one of 21 pinpointed for “immediate, intense action” by the Superfund Task Force. 

The EPA says that, depending on public feedback, the radioactive waste will either be shipped to an off-site disposal facility or placed in an on-site disposal cell.

In October, the EPA announced approval of a clean up plan at the San Jacinto Waste Pits in Texas. The cleanup plan would include installing engineering controls and excavating almost 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin-contaminated material for disposal. Some waste would have to be left behind. The remedy’s estimated cost was pinned at $115 million.

In connection with the San Jacinto clean up plan, Pruitt also announced his administration’s specific focus on Superfund sites, saying in a statement, “EPA is prioritizing Superfund clean-up by making decisions in a decisive, timely manner.” 

Speaking to Fox Business Network Thursday morning, Pruitt said the American people are upset about his leadership at the EPA because they don’t know him very well.

“Why would they be upset with removing a Superfund site in St. Louis, Missouri?” he asked. “That’s the issue here … should the agency be used as a weapon? Or to do good things like in Missouri?” 

Tags chemicals Missouri nuclear waste Radioactive contamination Scott Pruitt St. Louis Superfund toxic west lake

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