Landfill operator sues for cleanup costs at Superfund site in Bridgeton

By John Breslin | Oct 29, 2018

ST. LOUIS – The owner of a landfill site in Bridgeton that was contaminated by radioactive waste recently filed a federal suit seeking to have the company that dumped the materials pay the cleanup costs.

Bridgeton Landfill filed suit Oct. 23 in the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Missouri against Mallinckrodt, a company that is now mainly involved in the sale of pharmaceuticals but which processed uranium as part of the government's nuclear weapons program during the World War II.

The company, then Mallinckrodt Chemicals, dumped waste at various sites around St. Louis after the war. This included the West Lake Landfill site in Bridgeton, which was designated as a Superfund cleanup site by the federal government in 1989.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency filed a more than $200 million plan to remediate the site, the costs of which will be covered by Bridgeton, a subsidiary of Republic Services, two other companies, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

But, Bridgeton said in its complaint that Mallinckrodt should be liable for "recovery of all response costs incurred in connection with the West Lake Site."

"West Lake Landfill is contaminated with numerous substances that are hazardous to the environment and human health," the suit said. "According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), action to address the contamination is necessary to protect the public health and the environment."

According to the complaint, from March 1946 through 1957, Mallinckrodt transferred materials from its Destrehan Street processing facility, which ultimately ended up at the West Lake site.

"To date, Mallinckrodt has not reimbursed Bridgeton for any of the response costs incurred in connection with the West Lake site," the suit said, adding that Bridgeton wants Mallinckrodt to pay all the plaintiff's clean up costs.

"Mallinckrodt, a prime participant of the war effort that led to the contamination of the West Lake Landfill, belongs at this table,” Richard Callow, a spokesman for Bridgeton Landfill, told St. Louis Public Radio.

In an emailed statement to the same news organization, a Mallinckrodt spokesman said, "For decades, and to this day, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been responsible for and are handling all cleanup efforts on these sites, under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is aware of Mallinckrodt’s work for the U.S. government’s nuclear program and understands that Mallinckrodt did not send any residues or other materials associated with this government work to West Lake Landfill.”

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