State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) says she’s prepared to bring the state Senate to a grinding halt. She wants the House to pass her proposed buyout program for those living near a St. Louis area nuclear waste site. In this final week of the legislature’s regular session, a House committee and the full House have not considered the measure. The measure has passed in the Senate.
“We need state action and we need it now. There is no time for games,” says Chappelle-Nadal. “I have nothing to lose.”
The Senate has been plagued with turmoil in recent weeks because of Republicans bickering with one another. The fighting has led to several delays in the chamber’s business, putting the fate of several critical issues this session in jeopardy.
“For today and this week, we need to focus on the families that are in Bridgeton,” says Chappelle-Nadal.
Chappelle-Nadal and state Rep. Mark Matthiesen (R-Maryland Heights) have proposed to use $12.5 million in state funding to pay fair market value for 91 homes near the waste site. During budget discussions, lawmakers changed that figure to $1 million.
For years, residents who live near the landfill have complained about the health risks of the World War Two-era nuclear weapons waste and underground fire fumes from a nearby landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the radioactive material in the landfill, insists that the contamination does not pose a public health threat.
Area residents have reported a laundry list of healthcare battles. State Rep. Justin Hill (R-Lake St. Louis) says he wants people to make some noise so the federal government will pay attention.
“We have families in my district who have grown up in the Coldwater Creek watershed, including my wife’s own family,” says Hill. “This has personally affected my family. Um, 100% of my wife’s family has either cancer or auto-immune diseases.”
Four additional homes tested positive this week for radioactive materials near the site.