November 19, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, members of the Missouri congressional delegation, including Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, and Representatives Ann Wagner and Wm. Lacy Clay, introduced legislation to transfer remediation authority over the West Lake landfill from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Army Corps of Engineers, putting the site in the Corps’ Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP).
“The EPA’s unacceptable delay in implementing a solution for the West Lake landfill has destroyed its credibility and it is time to change course,” said Blunt. “The Corps has the knowledge, experience, and confidence of the families living near the site. Transferring clean up efforts to its control will help move the process forward and finally give these families the peace of mind they deserve. No parent should have to raise their child in an environment where they fear for their health and safety.”
McCaskill added, “The needs of this community are our top concern. We’ve heard loud and clear that they want the West Lake site transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers’ program that oversees all other sites in St. Louis containing this World War II era nuclear waste. This legislation is not a silver bullet, and will take far longer than we’d like to resolve the many issues surrounding this site, but this is a concrete, positive step forward in a process that’s been stagnant for far too long.”
The bill introduced today would not alter the current liability of potentially responsible parties at the site nor its designation as a Superfund site.
The measure represents the latest step in the delegation’s effort to utilize the Corps’ expertise to expedite remediation at the West Lake site. In July, Blunt, McCaskill, Wagner, and Clay sent a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz asking the Department of Energy to re-evaluate whether West Lake qualified for inclusion in the Corps’ FUSRAP in light of new information regarding the source of radioactive waste at the site.
“My constituents in the St. Louis region deserve a government where officials work proactively on their behalf, rather than kicking the can down the road with recurring delays and deflections,” said Wagner. “The Formerly Utilized Site Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have an excellent track record, broad support in the community and the expertise to handle a site as complicated as the Westlake Landfill. I believe that this legislation is a crucial step in our efforts to reach a permanent solution? for the people of Missouri."
Clay added, “Over a year ago, I called for the transfer of West Lake to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FUSRAP program. This new bipartisan legislation will bring us closer to achieving that goal.
This is a 70-year old problem and the federal government has a duty to finally do the right thing.
I am totally committed to removing all the nuclear waste from West Lake landfill. It just makes no sense to allow radioactive waste to remain buried in an unlined landfill, near residential neighborhoods, schools, a hospital, the airport and the Missouri River. It’s time to clean up West Lake landfill."
On February 28, 2014, the members also sent a letter to the EPA asking the agency to contract directly with the Corps to handle remediation efforts through FUSRAP, citing the Corps’ “expertise in this area, and the local community’s faith in the Corps’ FUSRAP mission.” In March of 2014, the agencies announced an agreement to work together to build a fire break at the West Lake landfill.