The 11th hour has arrived on this disaster in the making, but President Obama’s alleged conflict of interest has protected Republic Services and Exelon.
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St. Louis is sitting on top of a ticking ‘dirty bomb’—hidden in plain sight, which if ignited could result in a nuclear event rivaling Fukushima. This dirty bomb is not the work of ISIS, Hezbollah or any alleged ‘homegrown terrorists.’ The sponsors of this dirty bomb have never been cited on any DOD or NSA terrorist watch list, nor have they been treated to a CIA dark prison site, or the Hell that is Guantanamo.
In fact, the parties with both direct and indirect financial interests in this dirty bomb are linked to multiple presidential administrations (from FDR to the present Obama administration), and two Wall Street Fortune 500 corporations—nuclear giant Exelon Corporation and Bill Gates’ latest stock conquest, Republic Services, Inc. More importantly; this environmental crime has been perpetrated and supported by the very Superfund law allegedly written to protect all of us.
This ‘mother’ of all dirty bombs has a name—West Lake.
West Lake is a living metaphor for the extreme corruption in the present political system that places corporate ‘proprietary rights’ above public health and safety– to the point of lunacy.
West Lake disaster— nuclear waste dump meets underground landfill fire…
This is a tale of two—landfills. West Lake landfill is brimming chockfull with illegally dumped nuclear waste, while the second landfill—ie. the Bridgeton landfill has an underground fire which has been raging for some five years. They are separated by roughly 1000 feet of ground—and a chain-link fence. More to come on the ‘care and grooming’ of this homegrown mega ‘dirty bomb.’
Both are owned by Republic Services, Inc., but longtime Obama ally, nuclear giant Exelon Corporation shares ‘pollution liability’ which it voluntarily incurred in a corporate restructuring.
West Lake was made a Superfund Site in 1990. According to the Superfund law the …”potentially responsible parties” are the now defunct Cotter Corp. (a General Atomics affiliate), Republic Services subsidiaries (Bridgeton Landfill LLC), Rock Road Industries LLC, the U.S. Department of Energy and nuclear power giant Exelon Corp. Exelon acquired Cotter and maintained ownership from 1974 to 2000, and agreed to maintain ‘pollution liability’ from claims coming from any past actions by Cotter—including West Lake.
The West Lake landfill is an unlined pit filled with the oldest nuclear waste in the country, dating back to WWII and the Manhattan Project, courtesy of Mallinckrodt Chemical Corp. Originally this ‘ nuclear waste had been secretly transported and dumped throughout the St. Louis region by Mallinckrodt with the blessing of the now defunct federal Atomic Energy Commission; (the predecessor of the Department of Energy or DOE).
None of the laborers and truck drivers in past decades knew the risk they accepted as they packed barrel drums full of nuclear waste using no tools other than shovels and their bare hands. These laborers and truck drivers hauling the nuclear waste around town, dragging nuclear dust home on their shoes and dungarees, were guinea pigs sacrificed on the altars of ‘national security,’ and ‘corporate personhood.’
Historic record of negligence at both sites…
Dating back to the 1980’s serious problems emerged with West Lake as documented by the Mo. Department of Natural Resources; the same state agency now turning a blind eye on the alleged criminal negligence of Republic Services. Among various violations; nuclear waste was initially left on the landfill surface with no top cover, and exposed to erosion in an area which has experienced decades of multiple tornadoes, as St. Louis is part of ‘tornado alley.’ Some of the waste was shallowly buried. West Lake has no lining between the nuclear waste and any groundwater in the Coldwater Creek floodplain of the Missouri River.
The adjacent Bridgeton Landfill doesn’t appear to be benign either. The local NBC affiliate reported in 2014 that the Bridgeton Landfill site has been releasing gases into our air which contain toxic chemicals, including benzene gas, a proven carcinogen.
2010…the ‘subsurface smoldering event’ burns out of control…
In 2010, the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill developed an underground landfill fire which has raged out of control to the present day. Republic Services insists that there is no landfill fire, but merely a …’smoldering chemical event,’ or a ‘subsurface smoldering event’.
The utter stupidity of Republic’s semantic hair splitting speaks for itself.
While Republic Services was arguing the difference between a ‘smoldering event’ and a fire; local residents in Bridgeton, Mo. were living with foul odors so noxious they rendered outdoor activities impossible.
So far no one at Republic Services has admitted any liability regarding this ‘subsurface smoldering event’. Though presently unable to verify the cause of this underground landfill fire (which has been raging over 5 years to date); the most common cause remains the actual ‘gas collection systems’ ironically used to remediate such fires. When gas collection systems (such as the ‘gas extraction wells used at Republic’s Bridgeton Landfill); withdraw an overabundance of landfill gas—a subsurface smoldering event, or underground landfill fire occurs. (see p. 5 of report).
These underground gas collection systems for harvesting landfill gas are germane to this article as they bring into question a new program namely ‘landfill gas to energy’ spearheaded by Republic’s majority stockholder, Bill Gates. Landfill gas to energy programs are being touted as safe, clean and user friendly.
In 2014 Gates purchased some 42 million dollars worth of Republic Services; making him the largest stockholder at some 91 million shares. Gates also has one of the largest slices of potential civil and criminal liability, if this situation remains unresolved.
As Republic Services continued to stonewall any independent investigation; their ‘smoldering event’ at the Bridgeton Landfill was progressing closer to the raw buried nuclear waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill approximately 1000 feet away.
The Dirty Bomb scenario…a Goliath over entire Midwest…
Citizen groups have argued that if the underground smoldering event/fire comes into direct contact with the dumped nuclear waste at the unlined West Lake site; the release of toxins and carcinogens would go airborne in a goliath nuclear plume, and create the mother of all dirty bombs.
Depending on prevailing winds at the time of a nuclear release event at West Lake; the entire St .Louis Metropolitan area of some 3 million people, could be impacted. Additional contamination could spread far beyond St. Louis and possibly poison the entire Midwest United States in the form of nuclear airborne particulates. Local groups have conducted independent assessments outside the perimeter of the two landfills. A state consultant went on record reporting to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Bridgeton Landfill fire is spreading north towards the nuclear waste.
Further complicating this situation is the possibility of drinking water contamination, as West Lake sits on top of the Cold Water Creek floodplain. Geologic chemist Dr. Robert Criss, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis…”determined that groundwater in St. Louis County had come into contact with radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.”
Geology experts have estimated that this nuclear ‘event’ could occur within weeks or months. No one knows for sure, as both Republic Services and Exelon have been allowed to conduct and control the assessment process, with the blessing of Obama’s EPA. Soil samples independently collected outside the perimeter of the West Lake Landfill have confirmed the presence of the following radioactive substances : actinium 227, radium 226,224,223, thorium 232,230 and uranium 235,238,234.
Residents hired independent testing…
Community groups hired a Massachusetts lab to further analyze soil samples taken near the landfills. Since residents weren’t allowed on either property; these families took soil from their kids nearby abandoned baseball field. The lab found elevated levels of a type of radioactive lead which can develop from decaying radon or uranium particulate matter.
The EPA under Obama wouldn’t let these outside assessments stand, so they conducted ‘follow-up’ assessment and concluded that …”nothing was out of the ordinary.”
Republic Services attorneys were satisfied with the EPA results.
EPA enters the scene with phony study…protecting Republic
Once again EPA under Gina McCarthy enters the argument armed with a new assessment published October 16th, 2015. Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; a Health Consultation was presented to the public. The ‘Statement of Issues’ clearly explains the reason for the ‘health consultation.’
”On February 18,2014, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) received a request for assistance from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Region VII office in Lenexa, Kansas. The USEPA requested that ATSDR review sampling data collected on and around West Lake Landfill National Priorities Site, Bridgeton, Missouri. In 1973, the West Lake Landfill received radioactive wastes. The data ATSDR received include radiological results from testing groundwater and air collected in the area as well as historical data of soils contaminated with radioactive wastes. Much of these data were collected during the Remedial Investigation (RI) as reported in 2000.” (Source : Health Consultation by Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.)
Based on this report; the EPA stated to the press and community that there was no clear and present danger. The EPA spokesperson Curtis Carey stated that they found no evidence of radioactive material migration off the West Lake Landfill. To quote Carey…”we will know if there’s any indication that there’s a change in situation there, and we’ll let the public know through local emergency managers.”
It should be noted that the report cautioned workers at the landfill site against inhaling radioactive dust and radon gas.
The EPA based this determination on the review of old data solely. No mention of new data was considered. Since the report failed to review or consider any data after 2000, new data on the underground fire which began in 2010 did not enter into the equation. No review of new data post-2010, and no problem for Republic Services.
The magical fence…
The only protective barrier which separates the nuclear dump at West Lake and the toxins coming from the Bridgeton landfill—is a chain-link fence peppered with signs. Residents sarcastically refer to it as the ‘magical fence.’
Community wants EPA removed and Army Corp of Engineers to take over…
West Lake Landfill was designated as a Superfund Site by the EPA in 1990.
The West Lake landfill is also the…”only site in the county contaminated with nuclear waste that is not under the control of FUSRAP. The radioactive waste in Bridgeton came from a place that is now a FUSRAP site.”
EPA has maintained this Superfund classification for 25 years with little action. In 2008 a ROD or (Record of Decision) was filed which recommended a ‘cap and cover’ procedure to ‘fix’ the problem. The ‘cap’ would consist of rock, clay and soil.
A description of the summarized procedure is quoted below from the EPA document of the ROD or Record of Decision.
”12.2 Description of the Selected Remedy The major components of the Selected Remedy for OU 1 are as follows:
• Installation of landfill cover meeting the Missouri closure and post-closure care requirements for sanitary landfills including enhancements consistent with the standards for uranium mill tailing sites, i.e., armoring layer and radon barrier
• Consolidation of radiologically contaminated surface soil from the Buffer Zone/Crossroad Property to the containment area
• Application of groundwater monitoring and protection standards consistent with requirements for uranium mill tailing sites and sanitary landfills
• Surface water runoff control
• Gas monitoring and control, including radon and decomposition gas, as necessary
• Institutional controls to prevent land and resource uses that are inconsistent with a closed sanitary landfill site containing long-lived radionuclides
• Long-term surveillance and maintenance of the remedy (p.42.)
Notice how there is no mention of the inconvenient fact that these sites are situated on a massive flood plain. Surface water runoff control is akin to placing a ‘band-aid on a cancer.’
The community refused to comply with the 2008 ROD, stating the useless nature of EPA’s ‘cap & cover’ strategy, and EPA backed down.
Subsequently, multiple communities in the St. Louis area want the Bridgeton landfill fire extinguished, or at least kept from direct contact with the nuclear waste. Additionally they want any nuclear waste removed from the floodplain at the West Lake landfill site. They have no trust in the EPA’s tepid responses and are demanding that any cleanup of these two landfills be transferred from the EPA to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FUSRAP Division.
A bipartisan Missouri Congressional delegation sent a letter to the EPA dated February 28, 2014 explaining how they…”believe that the Agency should work with the Army Corps of Engineers and its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) operations in the St. Louis area.” The delegation requested that …”that the EPA consider contracting directly with the Corps to handle any and all remediation needed…[and] to determine the appropriate long-term remediation.”
(Source : Letter from US Senator Claire McCaskill, US Senator Roy Blunt, US Congress Member Wm. Lacy Clay, and US Member Ann Wagner to EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks, dated February 28, 2014)
EPA denies transfer…reason benefits Republic Services and Exelon…
The EPA has refused to relinquish jurisdictional control on multiple occasions, leaving the community confused. EPA stonewalling on this transfer of responsibility is not arbitrary, but an artifact of corporate governance and faux ‘rule of law.’ As noted in an editorial published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…”under the EPA’s Superfund program, the financially responsible parties are largely in charge of site studies and of the final recommendation. If they disagree with the EPA’s remedy or consider the cost unreasonable—and not surprisingly, they often do—they can sue to keep from cleaning up the site.”
Furthermore, the editorial explained ”why the Corps of Engineers is as better idea: [Army Corps] doesn’t have to ask the companies that will pay for a cleanup if a site needs it. If the corps determines that the site needs cleaning, it does it and then negotiates for payment with the parties responsible for the environmental hazard.”
Nuclear waste expert Robert Alvarez agrees with the editorial explaining that…”the EPA is unable to take an aggressive stand on removing the nuclear waste, because it lacks the regulatory authority to take action without drawing a lawsuit from the responsible parties.” Alvarez adds that the Army Corps of Engineers …”could order the removal without getting entangled in a lawsuit that could ‘drag on for years.’”
Alvarez served in the Department of Energy in the Clinton administration.
Notice the part stating that under Superfund, financially responsible parties, namely the polluters—control site studies. Controlling assessment allows the alleged defendants to limit study or assessment scope—thus limiting civil and criminal liability. It’s akin to allowing a man accused of genocide the right to control all aspects of the criminal investigation including any evidence. This aspect of Superfund law renders the EPA impotent, even as an investigatory agency.
Political issues behind alleged environmental negligence…
By now it has become patently clear that the very federal and state agencies tasked with ensuring public health and safety are either incompetent or criminally compromised. Both executive officers, namely President Obama and Mo. Governor Jay Nixon refuse to cede to public demands for removal of the nuclear waste, and effective management of the underground landfill fire.
These same agencies (EPA, DOE and MO/DNR) have refused to consider allowing any independent assessment of the two landfills, but have deferred to the corporate authority of Republic Services, Inc. and Exelon Corp, and their army of corporate attorneys. Additionally, EPA authority is subservient to corporate demands. The public has been locked out of the assessment and decision making process, with the exception of occasional meetings established by an EPA administered committee. No evacuation and buyout plan has been offered. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger proposed a ‘shelter-in-place’ plan in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Republic Services attorney would strip victims of their right to sue…
Here in Missouri, like in DC; a conflict of interest is treated like a charming idiosyncrasy as opposed to the political ‘entry drug’ of choice for overt criminality. Missouri Senator Kurt Schaefer, a partner in the legal firm representing Republic Services, has added a dirty little amendment to a senate bill that purports to ‘clean up’ St. Louis neighborhoods. The ‘Schaefer Amendment’ grants protection against …”certain claims against abandoned or damaged properties if the property was in ‘good faith compliance’ with an order issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the office of the attorney general.” Both public groups and local media have linked the Schaefer Amendment to an attempt to shield Republic Services from …”lawsuits by citizens.”
Mo. Governor Jay Nixon ignores West Lake while pushing football stadium…
While public groups have demanded that the Mo. Governor issue an official ‘State of Emergency,’ which would bring federal dollars and assistance; Mo. Governor Jay Nixon slaves for a new NFL football stadium funded with 1 billion public tax dollars.
The vapid nature of Governor Jay Nixon’s administration has been characterized by this Herculean effort to keep the NFL Rams football team here, sparing no expense. Governor Nixon has a task force working feverishly to save—NFL football. The Mo. Governor’s staunch refusal to issue a ‘State of Emergency’ has confused the public. In fact, this entire case constitutes incompetence on a scale not seen since Nero fiddled—while Rome burned.
Incompetent handling or strategic delays…
In these days of what can only be called out as thinly cloaked corporate governance; distinct motives behind inordinate delays and incomplete studies are difficult to ferret out. Why is the EPA commissioning incomplete studies pre-ordained to manufacture the ‘conclusions’ desired by Republic Services and Exelon Corporation? Why is Mo. Governor Jay Nixon turning a deaf ear on a critically dangerous situation? Why are Republic Services Inc, and Exelon Corporation allowed to control any assessment and reporting? Evidence points to undue corporate access and influence peddling rivaling any banana republic.
Obama’s billionaires—major stockholder in Republic Services-Bill Gates…
Once again we see how access to the White House has led to preferential treatment. Bill Gates bought majority stock in Republic Services in 2014.
Since then Gates has become a one-stop shop for corporate influence peddling on new energy technologies. He has the president’s ear. Lately Gates has been bullish on what he terms…’nuclear recycling’ and is pushing for ‘Manhattan Project ‘federal funding. To quote Gates …
…”Among the technology Mr Gates said was the most promising was “nuclear recycling”, where he has invested several hundred million dollars. His biggest single commitment was in a US-based company called TerraPower.”
Arguing that solar is impractical, Gates explains that…
“Solar is only during the day, solar only works best in places where it’s warm. We don’t have perfect grids. We don’t have storage”
– Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
“Nuclear technology today is failing on cost, safety, proliferation, waste and fuel shortage, and so any technology that comes in has to have some answer to all of those things.” TerraPower’s reactors would be powered not by enriched uranium, used by traditional reactors, but by depleted uranium, the waste from today’s plants.”
While this plan sounds interesting; it seems like the nuclear waste Fukushima type event looming over St. Louis would be an unforeseen circumstance he would like ‘swept under the rug.’ Ironically, Gates was explaining how ‘renewables’ should be funded by the government in the billions—like the Manhattan Project. Ironically, the Manhattan Project is exactly how St. Louis found itself surrounded by its own dirty bomb, just waiting to explode.
Just a few weeks ago, Bill Gates stood side by side with Obama administration officials to announce a multi-billion dollar initiative claiming to accelerate ‘clean energy’ research and development. This plan is one front of a global war on climate change; intended to spearhead movement at the Paris Greenhouse Gas Emissions Summit. To quote the Wall Street Journal the …”president and Mr. Gates will join with other heads of state and investors to detail complementary public and private commitments to clean-energy innovation.”
Now while I support ‘clean-energy’ innovation; I don’t recall ever electing Bill Gates to anything. I realize Gates is one of ‘Obama’s Billionaires’ but this looks like they are co-presidents—with a very small ‘p’. It would be preferred by the little people in St. Louis—that Mr. Gates takes care of his nuclear mess here—before lecturing the rest of the world. We are sitting on top of a virtual ‘dirty bomb’—and Bill Gates gets to play president.
President Obama has long deep ties to Chicago based Exelon Corporation. Exelon as it is now known was brokered in a merger of two utilities in 2000. The investment banker whobrokered the deal was none other than President Obama’s first term chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who was then working for Wasserstein Perella & Co.
In 2012, a year before the Fukushima nuclear disaster; President Obama authorized $8bn in loan guarantees for the construction of two new nuclear power plants in Waynesboro, Georgia at the Vogtle power plant. These loan guarantees pushed ahead against the objection of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair, Gregory Jaczko. To quote Jaczko; …”I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened.”
Exelon lobbyists challenge post-Fukushima safety recommendations…
The Center for Responsive Politics has documented that Exelon Corporation has spent $34.6 million on lobbying. Exelon has also received direct access to the Obama administration at a level which would make RICO racketeers blush. The New York Times published an expose in August 2012, which documented how Exelon exerted undue influence on Obama administration environmental policies. This included delaying and eventually weakening a proposed EPA rule designed to prevent power plant water intake systems from exterminating nearby aquatic life.
Exelon also joined forces with industry trade association Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and other unidentified nuclear power plant owners to crush any post-Fukushima regulations recommended by the NRC. More specifically, they lobbied against a proposed requirement mandating the installation of filters on hardened vents at some 31 boiling water reactors. These filtered vents are designed to prevent radiation discharges into the environment during a malfunction. Filtered vents are required in Japan and most of the EU. NRC technical staff provided evidence citing filtered vents as a cost-effective measure which would protect communities near nuclear reactors.
In 2013 over 50 members of Congress sent letters to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) demanding commissioners reject ‘filtered vents’. They also wanted a prolonged delay on any other post-Fukushima reforms. Two of the letters had signatures from House members (21 Republicans and 26 Democrats). It should be noted that since 2008 ‘contributed’ over $3.32 million to 41 of the 47 signatories on these letters. Exelon provided approximately 30 percent of these contributions.
Industry coffers prevailed and the NRC ordered owners of the 31 reactors in question to upgrade hardened vents, but failed to require filters. Furthermore, the NRC created a two year period to review all alleged options for the reduction of radiation releases, after which it will open the proposed rule to public comment. The final version won’t come due until 2017.
Secret nuclear summit with Third Way and Obama…
Fast-forward to 2015 and we find President Obama comfortably ensconced with Wall Street funded ‘think-tank’ representatives from ‘Third Way’ at a secret ‘White House Summit on Nuclear Energy.’
This summit was solely organized and attended by nuclear industry insiders. White House Senior Policy Advisor Jason Walsh personally thanked ‘Third Way’ for…”…being really valuable partners in helping us think through this event and also design the agenda…John Cowan, President of ‘Third Way’ will be moderating the third panel.”
Also in attendance was the CEO of Dominion Generation Group, David Christian. Christian spoke to the …”low cost”, “clean” nature of nuclear energy. He then spoke about Dominion’s relicensing application made that same day, for the Dominion Surry nuclear plant, and the plan to extend its operating life to 80 years; (which is double the original design life.) According to the Fairewinds group; …”Nuke risk analysts and experts have long suspected that the nuke industry and its alleged regulator the NRC were developing new plans behind closed doors to double the lifespan of these aging, leaking, and outdated atomic reactors.” …”Many of these aging atomic reactors predate computer design programs when they were designed back in the 1960s on mathematical slide rules.”
The Dominion proposal submitted the day of this secret summit with industry insiders is the first in the entire industry.
Part of this summit relies on President Obama’s love affair with SMR’s aka, Small Modular Reactors, whose placement is—underground. The DOE Office of Nuclear Energy has announced plans to spend $425-million…”…over five years to support first-of-a-kind costs associated with certification and licensing activities for small modular reactors (SMRs)through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
Chances are the Obama administration doesn’t want to attract any attention to problems associated with underground placement of nuclear reactors or fissionable materials. West Lake publicity becomes politically inconvenient.
Any sitting president can order independent assessment and the jurisdictional transfer the St. Louis community requested. Furthermore, elected officials had to know of the EPA Superfund rule which allows alleged polluters the right to challenge any EPA requests via SLAPP lawsuits of questionable legitimacy, and also allows corporate polluters the right to control the assessment process and any subsequent ‘site studies.’ Hello fox, meet henhouse.
If our elected officials had informed the public about the joke that is EPA Superfund regulation; we could have fought to demand transfer of these sites to the US Army Corps of Engineers FUSRAP division—years ago. Instead, elected officials wrote polite letters to EPA asking for a transfer of authority, knowing that this was an exercise in futility.
Ð Obama’s silence on this disaster speaks volumes.
The people of St. Louis suffering through this environmental crime are viewed by corporate and federal officials as politically acceptable ‘collateral damage.’ It takes no imagination to realize that corporate SLAPP suits against the EPA are designed to wait out the clock as damaged parties die off, waiting for their ‘day in court.’
Those who deny that political access leads to criminal interference– are leading with a specious and inane argument. Though a political conflict of interest may not be technically criminal; it certainly is unethical. The evidence of preferential treatment which is the by-product of unparalleled access to the White House, has resulted in a jerry rigging of law engineered to retrofit the needs of corporate interests above public safety. Such unfettered access has created a class of self-appointed monarchs who treat the law as a joke—and the disaster of West Lake is the smoking gun.