Wildwood city officials and residents alike are holding their breaths to see what Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 team members will tell them Thursday evening about the current risks and overall safety of a certain portion of the city that still remains on the Final National Priorities List (NPL).
This is a list on which the environmental group keeps known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. The NPL guides EPA experts' decisions regarding which sites warrant further investigation.
The Bliss-Ellisville Superfund site, located in what is now Wildwood, went on the NPL in 1983. EPA's present designation of this site is reflected as the "current human exposures at this site are under control" and that it is "not a ground water site." Some local residents have thought differently about the area, raising questions about ground water contamination, vapor intrusion, dust-related risks and lingering chemical compounds.
The EPA open house for Wildwood residents will be hosted Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Daniel Boone Branch of the St. Louis County Public Library, 300 Clarkson Rd., in Ellisville.
Recent environmental reassessment results, based on new testing launched last fall, are expected to help settle a four-year legal battle between Wildwood city representatives and custom home builder Wesley Byrne, who purchased 18.3 acres of the former Superfund site area to create a new subdivision after it was remediated by EPA teams and considered "cleaned up."
See related article: EPA Final Report: Proposed Strecker Forest Homes Site in Wildwood
"The conclusions of the new report were a bit on the imprecise side," Wildwood City Administrator Dan Dubruiel told Patch. "The way it was written is somewhat vague, and not quite as definitive as we had hoped. We're looking forward to further guidance from the EPA on Thursday night."
The lengthy final EPA report for the Strecker Forest Development just became available. To read the technical EPA assessment and response, CLICK HERE.
Patch inquired about further explanations of the report Wednesday, and received the following helpful response from Ben Washburn, EPA Region 7 public affairs specialist: "The results of the Expanded Site Review indicate the proposed home sites of the Strecker Forest development are suitable for residential development. One potential home site indicates slightly elevated levels of a kind of dioxin that is associated with garbage burning, and is not associated with the kind of dioxin contamination associated with the Bliss-Ellisville Superfund Site. This contaminated soil may be removed and disposed of at a non-hazardous waste landfill."
Wildwood representatives spent more than $500,000 in the past four years on the environmental testing, environmental consultants and lawyers' fees associated with the lawsuit, said Dubruiel. "This is a matter we are following very closely. We are committed to fully and properly getting the issue addressed."
EPA is estimated to have spent more than $200,000 on this latest round of environmental retesting; Patch is waiting for a confirmed amount from EPA representatives.
Dubruiel said the next scheduled appointment with the judge handling this related legal case is Sept. 21. That time frame leaves nearly three months for both parties to determine what options they have and how to potentially proceed.
Residents who live near the designated area wish conclusive evidence could be sorted out. Nearby resident Dan Topik, for example, said the reality is that no one can undo what was done 20 years ago. "They're (poisonous contaminants) in the bedrock and aquifer, and it never can be cleaned to 100 percent. You'd almost have to dig to China to do that. After all the EPA effort, we're still left wondering if it ever can be completely safe."
Editor's Note: This matter obviously is a very complex, vital one that affects many local people. Eureka-Wildwood Patch has followed it closely and published quite a bit of information about it. For background prior to tonight's EPA open house, here is a convenient list of articles for Patch readers to peruse. Readers can immediately click on the links to each one via the "SEE MORE ON PATCH" function that displays to the right of this article.
Jan. 10, 2011: Toxicologist Recommends EPA Reopen Superfund Site in Wildwood
Jan. 13, 2011: Events Involving the Bliss-Ellisville Superfund Site
Jan. 18, 2011: Owning a Superfund Site
April 24, 2012: EPA Actions Puzzle Wildwood Leaders
April 25, 2012: EPA's Withdrawal of Dioxin Guidelines Stumps Wildwood Officials
April 26, 2012: Abandoned 'Superfund Buildings' Demolished in Wildwood
June 4, 2012: EPA Revisits Times Beach Former Dioxin Site 15 Years Later
June 5, 2012: Former Times Beach Mayor: "We Know Dioxin Is There"
June 6, 2012: EPA Gathers Soil Samples at Route 66 State Park in Eureka to Check Dioxin Levels
June 6, 2012: EPA to Host Open House for Wildwood, Final Strecker Forest Development Report
June 12, 2012: EPA Project Manager Related to Wildwood Dioxin Accused of Hiding Information
June 12, 2012: EPA Issues Statement to Wildwood Residents
June 20, 2012: EPA Final Report: Proposed Strecker Forest Homes Site in Wildwood