1965-11-05 – AEC – Committee Report on Disposition of St. Louis Airport Storage Site


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The. Commission maintains a 21.74 acre residue storage site adjacent
to the St. Louis, Missouri, municipal airport. The site lies
approximately 15 miles northwest of downtown St. Louis. It is
bounded by Brown Road to the North and East, the Wabash Railroad
main line on the South, and Coldwater Creek on the Vest (which is
also the property line of McDonnell Aircraft Corporation). South
of the Wabash Railroad right-of-way lies Lambert-St. Louis Municipal
Airport and an area occupied by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation.
Aircraft take-off and landing patterns cross the property. A location
map is attached as Exhibit 1. An aerial photograph, Exhibjt 2,
locates the site with respect to adjoining property.
The site is completely fenced; there is a roadway access gate on the
North-side and a railroad gate on the South side, allowing Wabash
Railroad service to the plant via a spur line off the main line
track. The complete area, with its mounds of raffinate residues,
stacks of drums, hodge-podge of. scrap and temporar.y type structures,
has the appearance of a. typical spoil area common to chemical
indu3tries having residue storage ptoblems.
Consent to use and occupy the tract vas obtained by the Manhattan
Engineer District on March 2, 1946. Title vaa acquired to the
~operty on January 3, 1947, by condemnat~on proceedings for
‘20,000. The property was acquired for the purpose of storing
residues from the Destrehan Street Refinery and the Metals Plant.
The major capital improvements to the site were a concrete pit,
202 ft. x 42 ft. x 16 ft., constructed to store radi~bearing
residues (though it vas never used for this purpose), a covered
concrete pad 45 ft. x 250ft. for the storage of drummed materials
and a railroad siding with loading tipple. A detailed description
of the structures on site is given a·s the last section of this
The site vas operated by the Manhattan Engineer District and the
Commission from 1946 until J1.1ly 1953. when the operation vas
turned over to Mallinckrodt Chemical Works. Guards were maintained
at the site from 1946 to 1951.
The Destrehan Refinery started operations in 1946, utili~ing
pitchblende ores and continued o.o this feed until early in 1955.
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The procurement contract for these ores with African ~tals
Corporation required the United States to store both the pitchblende
raffinate (AM-7), which contains metal values other than uranium,
such as nickel. cobalt, and copper, as well as the radi~bearing
residues (K-65). as African Metals retained ownership of all
uterial except’ .its uranium content. African Metals. subsequent~
transferred ownership of the ~7 raffinate to the Government.
A large concrete pit vas constructed to store the radium-bearing
residue (~65) but was not used for this purpose due to health
reasons. Instead, this residue was stored in drums at the site,.
from 1946 until early in 1948. It was then transferred to the Lake
Ontario Storage Area, Model City, Nev York, in 1948 and 1949. lhe
~7 vas stored on the ground in the open where it remains today,
except far about 350 tons of pitchblende raffinate (A~7} which vere
processed in a small pilot plant facility at Destrehan Street to
recover ionium. This material was processed in 1955-1957 and
returned to the originfl raffinate storage at the site.
The raffinate (AM-10) produced from subsequent operations using nonpi1chblende
feeds was stored separately. A barium cake residue
(AJ-4) produced b.f the refinery is also stored at the site; this
residue resulted from the precipitation of digest liquor with barium
carbonate to reduce its sulphate content. Both of these materials
are stored on open ground. ,
The residues generated by the refinery aggregate to greater than
95% of the material presently stored at the Airport Site.
The other major components of residues were generated as slag from
the reduction step of the metal operations at Destrehan Street.
Two types of this material have been generated. Initially the
reduction. bombs were lined with dolomite. The used dolomite liner
(C-liner) was shipped from Destrehan Street and stored at the Airport
Site in bulk on the ground. Shipments of the dolomite slag started
in March 1946 and continued until early in 1953 when the dolomite
liner was replaced by a recycle magnesium fluorine liner. Approximately
half of the C-liner has since been shipped to FMPC for
recovery of the uranium content.
In 1955 an Interim Residue Plant was constructed at Destrehan Street
to scalp the uranium content from the magnesium fluoride slag produced
in the Metals Plant. tailings from this operation (C-701)
were stored in the concrete pit at the Airport Site, and since have
all been shipped to FKPC for recovery of the contained uranium.
By 1960 there also had accumulated at the storage site approximately
50,000 empty drums and 3500 tons of contaminated stee1 and alloy
scrap. Hovever, by 1962 the bulk of these materials had been disposed
of for the metal salvage values.
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Approximately 2400 drums remain in the area; these c~ain aiscellaneous
residues, Japanese uranium-containing send and contaminated
scrap materials.
Katerbl presently stored at the site is suamnari%ed belcnn
Gross Tons Approx.Tons U
Pitchblende Raffinate (AK-7)
hffinate (AK-10)
Barium Cake (AJ-4)
Other Miscellaneous Residues
· aDd Captured Japanese U
C-li.ner s 1a g
The original ground purchased 1D 1946 vas very uneven· and contained
e lov drainage area on the western section of the site. The land had
a drainage slope from East to West, with all surface drainage directed
to the Coldwater Creek at the western edge of the property. The
initial topography of the site is shown in the aerial photograph,
Exhibit 6.
It has been extremely difficult to reconstruct precisely the sequence
and location of contaminated materials and residues deposited on site.
The Committee has collected from various files and from McDonnell
Aircraft Corporation a series of aerial photographs which depict the
transition at the original site to its present state. Various reports,
drawings and sketches were also located which contributed to a general
understanding of the degree of contamination of the site. Numerous
individuals associated with the Airport Storage Site have been contacted;
however, since such a time has lapsed since the active
operation of the site, much of the information obtained by these
verbal inquiries is qualified by \Ulcertainties of memory. .Also, many
of the people who were intimately associated with the site during
its earcy operation are no longer available.
Judging from the knowledge gleaned from the above sources, it appears
that with respect to the western part of the site, early dispositions
of contaminated scrap metal were located in the low areas then existing
on the western end of the property. The scrap metal and other
debris were later covered (in 1952} with dirt received (gratis) Crom
McDonnell Aircraf’t Corporation and worked vi th heavy equipaent to
~ke a level storage area (see Exhibit 7). The reclaimed area is
nov occupied by AM-10 raffinate, drums of Japanese sand and contaminated
rubble and other waste from Destrehan Street •
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The existence of buried contaminated metal below the present surface
of the western section of the site was confirmed by tes; drilling
4escribed elsewhere in this report. Underground contaminated scrap
is reported to be on the order of magnitude of 50 to 60 truckloads
plus one contaminated vehicle.
the eastern two-thirds of the site presently is covered with mounds
of C-liner slag, raffinate (AH-7)t and barium cake (AJ-4). These
mounds of residue rise to approximately 20 feet above normal ground
level. Drainage from the mounds and the adjoining areas is directed
to the Coldwater Creek.
Drainage waters from the storage area have, in the past, produced
some minor contamination in Coldwater Creek. Continued monitoring
of the complete area and the creek waters, however, has indicated
that significant levels have never been reached and that all radiation
readings are well within permissible and acceptable limits presently
prescribed by .AEC directives and manuals.
A topographic survey map of the site (Exhibit 3) shows the existing
limits of residue stockpiles, the general topography of the remaining
area on the basis of one root contour intervals and the location of
principal structures at the site. The aerial photograph, Exhibit 4,
shows the site essentially as it exists today.
The area is inclosed by a chain link fence. It contains the following
A reinforced concrete pit consisting of floor slab and walls,
200 ft. long x 42 ft. wide by 12 ft. deep.
A storage shed consisting of a 250 ft. x 45 rt. concrete floor
pad, with a center wall 7 ft. high and 1 ft. thick running the
length of the structure. The pad is covered with a corrugated
metal roof supported on wood columns and trusses. Sides and
ends of the shed are open.
A single track railroad spur which enters the south fence near
the east end of the site.
A steel and wood· tipple is located along the spur.
A timber drum loading platform, 18! ft. x 8 f’t. x 3!- ft. high,
with stone fill ramp, is located just east of the tipple.
A reinforced concrete wash pad for trucks, measuring 51! ft. x
3Si rt. is located east of the Storage Shed.
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– —•-<# ---~------or• 14 -·-----......... ·- -~- -- ·-· ·--- ~-----. . ~.·-· .. ··-·-----·-····-A ____ , • If,. . - A reinforced concrete truck loading platform with tamp is located north of the wash pad and adjacent to the vest end of the Barium Sulfate residue. It is T-shaped, measuring 24 .rt. long x 6Sf ft. vide at the north side x lSi ft. vide at the south si~e. Three single-story wood buildings are also located· on the sitea A 32 tt. x 1~ .ft. office building at the main gate on the north side of the area. A 24j- ft. x 12 ft. guard house also at the main gate •. A 9 rt. X 7 ft. portable guard house located near the south fence, midway of the property. , - 5- . -.. -)..