Are official viewpoints of the leading, national environmental authorities enough, and are they trustworthy? Wildwood city representatives are asking this (multi)million dollar question.
After U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials delivered what was classified as a on Thursday evening at a public , Wildwood City Council members are scheduled to discuss whether to authorize $7,500 to $10,000 more environmental consultation work to assess EPA's results at Monday evening's work session.
A legal-based time bomb is ticking in that the judge handling the four-year legal dispute between and indicated he intends to schedule a trial when both parties meet Sept. 21 for a lawsuit status conference, unless a settlement is reached prior, according to Wildwood City Administrator Dun Dubruiel.
Dubruiel issued a memo to City Council members indicating the city's special legal counsel for the matter, Bruce Morrison, recommends re-engaging the services of two prior environmental consulting firms: , under the leadership of , and .
The memo recommends a "full review and evaluation of the EPA Strecker Forest Expanded Site Review Report." It also recommends the two suggested environmental consulting companies report to Morrison to "maintain attorney-client/work product privilege."
"Given the highly technical basis of the EPA Report and this subject matter, particularly the assumptions, analysis standards and protocols employed by EPA in reaching its conclusions, having it analyzed and interpreted by experts working on behalf of the City is in the interest of providing City Council, City Officials and City Legal Counsel with credible advice to help guide the public policy decisions City Council will be asked to make in the weeks ahead," stated Dubruiel in the memo.
However, at last week's open house, the EPA team present said more than 100 officials from a variety of entities had weighed in prior to the final report being finalized and distributed, lending notable credibility to its findings. Eureka-Wildwood Patch secured a list of the participating entities as the meeting concluded:
- EPA Environmental Services Division, Region 7
- EPA Superfund Division, Region 7
- EPA headquarters staffers
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources Superfund Division
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources Geology and Land Services Division
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registration
- EPA contractors who did the samplings
- Private analytical laboratory representatives
EPA Public Affairs Specialist Chris Whitley for Region 7, which is the Midwest area within which Wildwood-based projects fall, told Patch that EPA's reports reflect the different perspectives of the agency's many partners. "More than one set of (agency's) eyes goes over the reports," Whitley said. "And a healthy level of disussions goes on. EPA does not operate in a vacuum."