1989-12-21 – Comments on Proposed Addition of Westlake Landfill, Bridgeton, Missouri to National Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites (Proposed Update No. 10)


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Comments on Proposed Addition to National
Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous
Waste Sites (Proposed Update No. 10)



Submitted by:


on behalf of
John L. May, the Roman
Catholic Archbishop
of the Archdiocese of
St. Louis

December 21, 1989


Mr. Larry Reed, Acting Director

Hazardous Site Evaluation Division
(Attention:: NPL Staff)

Office of Emergency and

Remedial Response (OS-230)
United States Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, N.W.
Washington,iD.C. 20460

Re; Comments on Proposed Addition of “Westlake
Landfill, Bridgeton, Missouri” to National
Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous
Waste Sites (Proposed Update No. 10)_____

Dear Mr. Reed:

These comments are submitted on behalf of John L. May, the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and
Rock Road Industries, Inc., a Missouri corporation. The
Archdiocese1 of St. Louis, along with other not-for-profit
organizations, were the beneficiaries of a charitable bequest
under a will which resulted in its ownership of (a) an interest
in real estate located within the site proposed to be placed on
the National Priorities List by reason of the existence thereon
(prior to the bequest) of radioactive waste contaminants, and

(b) a majority shareholder interest in Rock Road Industries,
Inc., an entity which also owns an interest in real estate
located within, the proposed site. The Archdiocese of St.
Louis, therefore, together with two other charities, has a
substantial economic interest in the subject site. Neither the
Archdiocese of St. Louis — nor any of the other charity
beneficiaries — knew of the presence of radioactive
contamination at the site at the time of acceptance of the
bequest. ;


Mr. Larry Reed
December 21; 1989
Page 2

The site designated by the EPA as “Westlake Landfill,
Bridgeton, Missouri” was proposed on October 26, 1989 to be
added to the National Priorities List (“NPL”) for Uncontrolled
Hazardous Waste Sites (Proposed Update No. 10). The Hazard
Ranking System (“HRS”) evaluation performed for the site
analyzed the human or environmental risks presented by the
potential for exposure to radioactive materials through ground
water and surface routes. The HRS score for the site as
computed by the EPA was 29.85.

Radiological contamination is the sole reason for the
proposed NPL listing of “Westlake Landfill, Bridgeton,
Missouri.” , S_£e_ EPA HRS Cover Sheet. Radiological contamina.tion at the site has been identified by the parties
commissioned to perform site studies for the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission ;(“NRC”) in two distinct areas of the site. This
letter constitutes formal written comments regarding the
proposed listing as solicited by the October 26, 1989 Federal
Register notice (54 Fed. Reg. 43778).

t I. Purpose of Comments

These comments are submitted for the following purposes:

To identify the ownership of the site which will
enable a more accurate and equitable name for the site.

To’ emphasize the genesis of the radiological
contamination at the site.

To ‘suggest a revised HRS score which more accurately
reflects the site’s relative placement with regard to the
nation’s priority listings.

To provide an evaluation of the potential for risk to
human health or the environment posed by the site based upon
findings of studies commissioned by the NRC which demonstrate
that the site does not present an imminent and substantial
danger to human health or the environment.

! II. Summary

1. Radioactive contaminants, generated by the United
States government during World War II, and later owned by the
Cotter Corporation of Canon City, Colorado, were transported


Mr. Larry Reed

December 21, 1989

Page 3

and dumped, without the knowledge or consent of the site owners
or operators, in two areas of the former West Lake Landfill.
The contaminated parcels, designated Area 1 (3 acres) and
Area 2 (13 acres) are primarily owned by religious charitable
institutions and a corporate entity, Rock Road Industries, Inc.

2. The HR£3 evaluation performed by the EPA on February 8,
1989, resulted in a score of 29.85. High scores in “target.areas, however, such as Ground Water Use and Distance to

Nearest Well, rest upon minimal evidence of qualifying usage.
The result is an HRS score which is not representative of the
site vicinityi1 s actual low probability of harmful occurrence or
damage. Suggested revisions to the HRS scoring would reduce
the total score to a revised score which is well below the
standards for inclusion on the NPL.

3. The j site does not pose an imminent or substantial
danger to .human health or the environment. Studies
commissioned or authored by the NRC, as cited herein, have
consistently determined that contaminant migration is minimal,
and current exposure levels do not present an immediate health

4. Nearjby businesses which utilize the name “West Lake”

— but which do not operate any business on the contaminated
site — are concerned about public confusion over the site’s
name designation. Because no entity exists or is doing
business as; “Westlake Landfill,” it is suggested that an
alternative ;’ site designation of “Rock Road Industries,
Bridgeton, Missouri” be adopted.

III. Ownership and Name of Site

The two areas of radioactive contamination (Areas 1 and 2)
assessed by ,the HRS are owned by (a) John L. May, the Roman
Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (herein the
“Archdiocese”), The Shrine of St. Jude, an Illinois
not-for-profit corporation (herein the “Shrine”), and The
Society for the Propagation of the Faith of the Archdiocese, a
Missouri not-for-profit corporation (herein the “Society”), (b)
Rock Road Industries, Inc., a Missouri corporation (the
shareholders of which are the Archdiocese, the Shrine and the
Society) and; (c) Walter Trump, individually and as Trustee for
Dorothy Trump, his sister, and Dorothy Trump, individually and
as Trustee for her brother, Walter Trump.


Mr. Larry Reed

December 21, 1989

Page 4

West Lake Quarry and Material Company, West Lake Ready Mix
Co., and Laidlaw Waste Systems (Bridgeton) Inc. {formerly West
Lake Landfill, Inc.) are Missouri corporations which operate
separate businesses on property adjacent to or in close
proximity to Areas 1 and 2. HOWEVER, MOST IMPORTANTLY, NEITHER

Ill. History and Overview

The two areas of radiological contamination scored in the
HRS were ‘created in 1973 when soil contaminated with
radioactive material was surreptitiously placed there. The
radioactive material originated from uranium-ore-processing
residues which had been stored at Lambert Airport by the United
States Atomic Energy Commission (“AEC”), and had been sold in
1966 to the Continental Mining and Milling Company of Chicago,
Illinois. In 1966, the material was moved from the Airport to
nearby 9200; Latty Avenue, Hazelwood, Missouri. In 1967, the
Commercial Discount Corporation of Chicago took possession of
the residues for removal of moisture and shipment to the Cotter
Corporation;facilities in Canon City, Colorado. In 1969, the
remaining material was sold to the Cotter Corporation. In the
following four years, most of the residues were shipped to
Canon City.!

In 1974, Region III representatives of the NRC’s Office of
Inspection and Enforcement visited the Cotter Corporation’s
Latty Avenue site to check on the progress of the
decommissioning activities being performed there. This
inspection disclosed that in 1973 Cotter Corporation had
disposed of approximately 8,700 tons of leached barium sulfate
residues mixed with 39,000 tons of topsoil at a local landfill.

By letter dated June 2, 1976, the Missouri Department of
Natural Resources (“MDNR”) forwarded newspaper articles to the
NRC Region III Office which alleged that only 9,000 tons of
waste had been moved from the Latty Avenue site (rather than
40,000 tons) and that the 9,000 tons were moved to the West
Lake Landfill (rather than to the St. Louis Landfill No. 1).
Region III personnel investigated the allegations and found
that 43,000 tons of waste and soil had been removed from the
Latty Avenue site and had been dumped at a construction


Mr. Larry Reed
December 21,’1989
Page 5 ,

landfill site in Bridgeton then operated by a corporation
called West: Lake Landfill, Inc. Disposal in the West Lake
Landfill was not authorized by either (a) the NRC (in fact, it
was contrary to the disposal locations indicated in the NRC
records), (b) MDNR {state officials were not notified of this
disposal and the landfill was not regulated by the state at the
time), or (c) West Lake Landfill, Inc. (it was only later that
West Lake Landfill’s officials became aware of the unauthorized
disposition)1. Of course, none of the charities — which would
not own an interest in the land until many years later — nor
Rock Rock Industries, Inc. — which was not even in existence
at the time — authorized, or could have authorized, the

dumping of the contaminated material.

In 1978′, an aerial radiological survey revealed two areas
within the landfill where the gamma radiation levels indicated
radioactive; material had been deposited. A more extensive
radiological survey of the site was initiated in 1980-81 by the
Radiation Management Corporation (“RMC”) of Chicago, Illinois
under contract to the NRC. The findings were published in May,
1982 in NUREG/CR-2722, “Radiological Survey of the West Lake
Landfill, St. Louis County, Missouri.”


In 1983, the NRC through Oak Ridge Associated Universities
(“ORAU”) contracted with the University of . Missouri-Columbia
(“UMC”) Department of Civil Engineering to conduct an
engineering evaluation of the site and propose possible
remedial measures for dealing with the radioactive waste at the
site. In 1986, ORAU sampled water from wells on and close to
the site to determine if the radioactive material had migrated
into the ground water.

The NRC reports issued in June, 1988 and July, 1989 are
based upon these previous investigations and samplings.

The conclusions of these reports are that the radioactive
contaminants present at the site are located in two areas. The
southern area of radioactive contamination (Area 1) contains a
relatively1 minor fraction of the debris covering approximately
three acres with most of the contaminated soil buried under no
less than three feet of clean soil and sanitary fill. The
northern area (Area 2) comprises about thirteen acres. The NRC
reports inaccurately indicate that the radioactive debris forms
a layer two to fifteen feet thick and is exposed in a small

Mr. Larry Reed

December 21, 1989

Page 6

area on the: landfill surface along the berm on the northwest

face of the Landfill.*

IV. HRS Scoring


The EPA assigned high HRS scores in “Target” categories for
the site in, the February 8, 1989 scoring. Such scoring would
only be appropriate where a substantial number of individuals
ingest water from wells in close proximity to the site of
contamination. This characterization is an inaccurate portrait

of the true; site conditions, which will distort its priority
ranking, and; misinform the public.

The site is surrounded by a rural, unpopulated area. The
MDNR memorandum relied upon by the EPA scorer found only a
single well within a mile radius of the contaminated site, with
no evidence that the well was used for drinking purposes.
(Reference 20, HRS Docket). For the three mile surrounding
area, only seven and one-half percent (7-1/2%) of the HRS
“population” served by ground water are individuals, with the
remainder derived from usable-cropland equivalence calculations

(1-1/2 “people” per irrigated acre).

The NRC; stated in its July, 1989 Report, “it is believed

that only one private well (Figure 2.9) in the vicinity of the

the landfill is used as a drinking water supply. This well i-s

2.2 km (1.4 miles) N 35° W of the former Butler-type Building

located on the West Lake Landfill. In 1981, analysis showed

water in this well to be fairly hard (natural origins) but

otherwise of, good quality (Long, 1981).”

These studies reflect the minimal use of ground water in
the immediate site vicinity: only a single well is identified
within a mile of the contaminant, and the closest drinking
water use cited is at 1.4 miles. Yet, the HRS scorer assigned
the maximum: value of “3” in the Target category of “Ground
Water Use.”, This rating does not fairly reflect the facts

cited in the studies.

* Remedial activities were performed in 1986 to cover more
adequately the contaminant in Area 1. The information
cited in the reports to the contrary is inaccurate, as is
more fully explained at page 10 of this comment letter, and
in the Affidavit of William Canney dated December 21, 1989,
attached hereto as Exhibit A.

Mr. Larry Reed
December 21,j1989

Page 7 ;

Further investigation has revealed that MDNR data regarding
public water, availability north of the contaminant location was
not accurate:. Mr. John Madras of the MDNR stated in a June 6,
1989 telephone record (Reference 14, HRS Docket) that Mr. David
Pruitt of St. Louis County Water Co. confirmed the
unavailability of public water service north of Route 115. In
the Statement attached hereto as Exhibit B, Mr. Pruitt denies
the accuracy of this MDNR memorandum. Mr. Pruitt states that
public water service is available in many areas north of Route
115 (St. Charles Rock Road). With regard to the only well
identified by MDNR as lying within a mile of the contaminant,
that of Wilfred Hahn (Reference 20, HRS Docket), Mr. Pruitt
states that public water mains run in close proximity to this
site, providing availability of a public water supply in this
area. ,

EPA’s discretion to select a reasonable regulatory
interpretation is well-established; however, accuracy in
development of the NPL is best promoted by HRS scoring which
realistically describes site conditions. Most importantly,
simple fairness dictates the application of reasonable
standards. ;A maximum Ground Water Use value of “3,” based only
upon minimal usage and support, results in a distorted rating


The Ground Water Use value appropriate for the site
vicinity taken as a whole, is at most “2,” the second highest
ranking. Utilizing this value would reduce the total HRS score
to 26.36, thereby reducing the scoring for the site below the
NPL listing guidelines, and providing an accurate evaluation of
this site’s low threat to health and the environment.

In another exaggerated valuation, the HRS scorer selected a
“distance to nearest well” value of “3” (“between 2,001 feet
and one mile”). Yet, only a single well was detected by MDNR
within a mi;ie of the site, and no evidence was cited of its use
for drinking purposes. (Reference 20, HRS Docket). Moreover,
as stated above, municipal water from St. Louis County Water
Co. is available for this area. (Exhibit B). The closest well
used for drinking purposes identified in the studies is 1.4
miles from the site. The value which accurately characterizes
the proximity of well water use causing potential environmental
harm is therefore “2” (“one to two miles”). Use of this number
reduces the HRS overall score to 25.20, again reducing the
scoring for’ the site well below the NPL listing guidelines.


Mr. Larry Reed

December 21,;1989

Page 8

The primary purpose of the NPL, which is to prioritize
fairly the nation’s environmental threats, is thwarted where
exaggerated evaluations obscure realistic assessments. Normal
fluctuations!found within an assessment category are compounded

where, as in this case, excessively high scoring occurs in
multiple areas..

If values for both Ground Water Use and Distance to Nearest
Well are reduced to the more accurate values suggested above,
the HRS score for the site falls to 20.58. A score of 20.58 is
far closer to the site’s actual priority level than EPA’s
assigned HRS|score of 29.85.

EPA is requested to reduce the HRS score as suggested so
that (a) national environmental resources may be better
directed toward true priority sites, and (b) the public is not
misled as to’ the actual conditions at this site.

V. Potential for Risk to
i Human Health and the Environment

A review of the findings of the NRC studies of the site
conducted over a several year period yields two strong
conclusions:, (a) the contaminants are essentially site stable,
with low migration likelihood; and (b) the contaminants in
their present state do not pose an imminent or substantial
threat to human health or the environment.

The following is a synthesis of the findings and
conclusions contained in NRC-sponsored or NRC-authored studies
which support a determination that the site poses minimal risk
to health and the environment.

(a), Contaminants are Essentially Site Stable. In a
report prepared for the NRC in 1982 by RMC entitled
“Radiological Survey of the West Lake Landfill, St. Louis
County, Missouri,” the authors’ conclusions are clear:

There is no indication that significant quantities of

contaminants are moving off-site at this time. [NRC

1982 Radiological Survey, Abstract.]

In the body of its report, RMC cited MDNR’s 1980
Groundwater Investigation to conclude the existence of “little

or no surface or sub-surface movement of materials from the

Mr. Larry Reed
December 21, 1989
Page 9

site.” (NRC 1982 Radiological Survey, page 4). No off-site
water samples exceeded existing Ra-226 EPA standards:

None of the sample alpha activities exceeded the
MPC for Ra-226 (the most restrictive nuclide ^present)
in water for unrestricted areas. Only one sample
exceeded the EPA gross alpha activity guidelines for
drinking water and that was a sample of standing water
near the Shuman building. . . . None of the off-site

samples; exceeded either EPA standard. [NRC 1982
Radiological Survey, page 16.]

Vegetation samples from farm areas of likely site
run-off were also analyzed: no elevated activities were
found. (Id.., page 19). The report goes on to state:

At no time has radioactivity in off-site water
samples! risen above any applicable guidelines. These
results: indicate that the buried ore residues are
probably not soluble and are not moving off-site via
ground water. . . . The absence of significant
contamination in the leachate liquid or sludge is
consistent with the implication that the buried
material is not moving through the landfill. [NRC
1982 Radiological Survey, page 22.]

The July, 1989 report prepared by the NRC, entitled
“Site Characterization and Remedial Action Concepts for the
West Lake Landfill,” continued to rely on the 1982 findings, in
the absence of any significant contrary data produced
thereafter.; (NRC 1989 Site Characterization, page 3-6.) This
report also noted that the most proximate drinking water well,
identified as 1.4 miles from the contaminant, was sampled and
analyzed in 1981, and was found to be free of site
contaminants. (Id. at page 2-8). The hydro-geologic
conditions were also described:

Since the limestone is fairly impervious, and
groundwater flows in most areas from the bedrock into
the alluvium, contamination of water in the bedrock
aquifer, does not appear likely. [NRC 1989 Site

Characterization, page 2-7.]

(b) Contaminants Do Not Pose an Imminent or
Substantial Danger. Both the 1982 and 1989 NRC reports contain
assessments; that the site contaminants constitute no present or
imminent threat to human health or the environment. The

Mr. Larry Reed
December 21, 1989

Page 10

Summary of: the 1989 report unequivocally states that health
concerns are not short-term, imminent, or immediate factors:

Although the contamination does not present an
immediate health hazard, authorities have been
concerned about whether this material poses a
long-term health hazard to workers and residents of
the area and what, if any, remedial action is
necessary. [NRC 1989 Site Characterization, page ix.]

Contaminant risk will only grow slowly over a period
of decades ,and centuries:

Assuming the ratio of activities of 100:1 used above,
the Ra-^226 activity will increase by a factor of five
over the next 100 years, by a factor of nine 200 years
from now, and by a factor of thirty-five 1000 years
from now. [NRC 1989 Site Characterization, page 4-1.]

In addition, particulate air monitoring revealed
little basis for concern:

Particulate air samples established indicated the
presence of Rn-222 and Rn-219 daughters near the
locations of surface deposits. However, concentra.tions are very low, and do not exceed allowable levels
for unrestricted areas, except in one location. In
general1, cover of a few feet of fill reduces airborne
concentrations to near background levels. [NRC 1982
Radiological Survey, page 22.]

The 1989 report noted that “the highest levels [of air
particulate1] were detected in November 1980, near and inside
the Butler-type building which has since been removed.” (page


Other remediation activities have further stabilized
the site and further reduced any threat of surface contaminant
release. The portions of Area 2 cited on page 12 of the 1982
report, including the berm near the northwest edge of the site
were addressed by West Lake Landfill, Inc. in 1986 in
accordance !with the guidance of ORAU, the NRC contractor. See
Affidavit of William Canney dated December 21, 1989, attached
hereto as Exhibit A.

! THE STOLAH PARTNERSHIP Mr. Larry Reed December 21,’ 1989 Page 11 ;


——————— —.
Radioactive contamination, originating from the
government’si World War II weapons development program was
placed in two confined areas, without the knowledge or consent
of the areas’ owners or operators. These areas, most
appropriately called the “Rock Road Industries, Bridgeton,
Missouri” site, have received an HRS score which constitutes an
inflated assessment of the probability of a harmful occurrence
and the magnitude of the potential damage. Studies
commissioned or authored by the NRC support the conclusions
that the site does not pose an imminent or substantial risk of
danger to human health or the environment.


For the reasons stated herein, the proposed HRS scoring
should be recomputed to reflect accurately the state of
conditions on the site. Such recomputation will result in the
removal of this proposed site — which in any event should have
its name changed — from inclusion on the NPL.

‘ Respectfully submitted,


SF. Gurin,-xon behalf of

Jqh’n L. May, the Roman

Catholic Archbishop of the

“‘Archdiocese of St. Louis




A. Affidavit of William Canney, dated December 21, 1989.

B. Statement of David Pruitt, St. Louis County Water Company,

dated December 21* 1989.

i * •’-• “- ” MjSc'”-1 ‘” ‘ ~, ‘-• ^”‘ ‘”-””i”«” -• ” -! ‘ ; j.-i -‘ ,-*,’. ” , • “jKz:’ /’—I •,’ ” j

Affidavit of William Cannev

My name is William Canney. From Approximately 1977 through

1988, I was’ employed by Westlake Landfill, Inc., in several

capacities including that of Environmental Engineer.

In approximately 1986, under the guidance of the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission’s contractor, Oak Ridge Associated
Universities,’ I supervised the deposit of approximately 420,000
pounds of clean fill dirt along the berm on the northwest face of
the landfill.! This location is referred to as Area 2 in the NRC

William Canney

State of Missouri )
County of St. Louis )

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of December, 1989,

Cmmission Exphs H*r 2,1932
Notary Public


;ST. LOUIS COUNTY WATER CO. • 535 North New Bellas Road • St. Louis. Mo 63141 £ ‘FAX
•WI * +S

My name is David Pruitt. I am employed by the St. Louis
County Water Company. My job title is Engineering Technician.
I have reviewed the attached statement by John Madras, an
employee of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources,

concerning our telephone conversation of June 6, 1989, regarding

the extent of; St. Louis County .Water Company service in the area

north of St. Charles Rock Road (Rt. 115). Mr. Madras’ statement

does not present an accurate description of public water

availability in this area.

I have also reviewed the attached Missouri Department of
Natural Resources memorandum and map describing the location of
the well belonging to Wilfred Hahn. Although the precise location
of this well is not indicated, St. Louis County Water Company
water main lines are located throughout this area. I have
reviewed the official St. Louis County Water Company documentation

showing water main locations, and in my judgment public water
service is available in the area in which the Wilfred Hahn well
appears to be located.

David Pruitt

State of Missouri ) .
County of St.’Louis ) / <','•• Before me,,a notary public, appeared this 21st/ d.ay nf December, 1989, Mr. David Pruitt, known to me, and stated that^'e executed the foregoing as his free act and deed. '- '•'.'• I . If Mssion lipfK Mjf 2,192 DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES Division of Environmental Quality TELEPHONE OR CONFERENCE RECORD Pile Westlake Quarry Landfill____ PaM> Jtmg 6. 1969


Incoming ( ) Field ( )

Outgoing CB) Office ( )

SUBJECT Extent of St. Louis County Water Co. Service

Bane Representing

Mr. Dave Praitt______________ St. Louis Cotmtv Water Co.


flqhp Madras..!_________________ flDNR___________u_______


Mr. Pruitt and X discussed the extent pf yfof public water suoolv availability
jj the vicinity of yestlake landfill. He stated that the water cpapanv servecj
t^f> Earth Citrv area (which is south of Route 115) and ftad one flajn. that
parallel Route 115. but provided no service north of that highway on the _____
Missouri River floodolain. The water gpntoanv does provide service to <_ resideces in the upland east of the floodplaio fin > ^v o
270^ . He indicated that naos of water mains cotild be reviewed in his office



Shn Madras .
Environaental Specialist

I DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES 1 Division of Environoental Quality
‘ x •

File West lake Landfill. St. Louis Co. Pate Julv 26. 1989
Incoming (22) Field ( )
Outgoing ( ) Office ( )
SUBJECT Well survey in vicinity of landfill________

Name Representing
___ ______ MDNR-SLRO
John Madras__ ______ ________ MDNR-WMP________________________


flike stated: that he had visited the property of Wilfred Hahn north of Westlake
Quarry Landfill. The property is located north of Route 115 one half mile____
northwest of Taussine Road and one Quarter mile north on the side road. The
property has a trailer and greenhouse. The well supplies water to the________
greenhouse for raising produce and is available for other purposes as well, but
it could not be determined if it is used for drinking water. Irrigation_____
equipment was also present on-site. Corn is raised on the land surrounding the
trailer. Domestic animals (cats and does) were also present. No residents were
present at the time of the site visit. ______________________J_



Jofrd Madras
Environmental Specialist

n’i.t.l OOUOIt