ST. LOUIS — A company tasked with cleaning up a St. Louis-area landfill contaminated by radioactive waste has filed an amended compliant accusing a second firm of responsibility for some of the remediation work.
Bridgeton Landfill, which filed suit in a Missouri federal court against Mallinckrodt Inc. early last week, added EverZinc Inc. to its amended complaint over the cost of cleaning up the West Lake Landfill site.
Raleigh, North Carolina-headquartered EverZinc, formerly African Metals, is accused of selling uranium ore refined by Mallinckrodt, then Mallinckrodt Chemicals, as part of the U.S. war effort, and specifically the Manhattan Project that developed nuclear weapons.
Waste from the project, some of it allegedly still owned by then African Metals, was said to have been moved from a St. Louis facility to various sites before ending up at West Lake.
"African Metals, today known as EverZinc, sold uranium ore and ore concentrates that the U.S. government used for the war effort," Richard Callow, a spokesman for Bridgeton Landfill, a subsidiary of Republic Services, told the St. Louis Record after the amended complaint was filed on Thursday.
"They also retained ownership, for a period of time, of Manhattan Project residues from uranium refining activities," Callow said.
"Some of those residues, which were initially stored at the SLAPS site and later at Latty Avenue, led to the contamination of West Lake Landfill. We believe that EverZinc, like Mallinckrodt, should have a seat at the table.”
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a more than $200-million remediation plan for 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. The EPA did not name Mallinckdrodt or EverZinc in its plan.
The plan involves excavating and removing some 70 percent of the site’s radioactive waste and capping the rest of the site.
Bridgeton Landfill is asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to order Mallinckrodt and EverZinc to pay the "necessary costs of response that plaintiff has incurred and will continue to incur...caused by the release or threatened release of hazardous substances that have contaminated the West Lake Landfill."
EverZinc obtained and delivered radioactive ores as part of the Manhattan Project, and Mallinckrodt "generated wastes containing...hazardous substances at its Destrehan Street facility" still owned by the former, according to the complaint.
In an emailed statement to St. Louis NPR following the initial filing, a Mallinckrodt spokesman stated, "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 clean-up 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.”