Underground Chemical Fire Nears Radioactive Nuclear Waste

Slow Burning Fire and Nuclear Waste Dump Are Still 1,000 Feet Apart

Chemical Fire Nears NukesDon’t worry, the authorities have everything under control

Nuclear power may be the “cleanest” energy source available, but there are nevertheless three pretty big problems associated with it*:
1. Radioactive waste that lasts for tens of thousands of years
2. Major contamination during extraction
3. It can blow up with negative long term consequences.

Our topic today falls under #1 and it’s about an underground chemical fire** that has been burning near St. Louis since 2015. Underground fires that can’t be extinguished are always a source of consternation, but this one even more so, because it’s moving slowing in the direction of a landfill containing WWII radioactive nuclear waste. According to records, the nuclear material was left over from some Manhattan Project activities and dumped illegally by Mallinckrodt Chemical in 1973.

The good news is that the chemical fire is moving slowly beneath the earth for the time being. The bad news is that it’s only about 1,000 feet away from the nukes at this point.
Now, if this fire should reach the nuclear waste and the nuclear waste should start burning, we would have a real problem in the form of a plume of radioactive smoke over St. Louis…depending on wind direction.*** That’s why after the fire had burned for three and a half years, St. Louis County came up with an emergency plan. Just in case.

When the fire first began about five years ago, residents near the landfill complained about a nasty smell of burning chemicals in the air. The smell is so bad that the Missouri Attorney General eventually sued Republic Services in 2013 for negligence. The trial starts next year – so 6 years after the fire started – and will go on for a while and then eventually maybe there will be a fine.

As for the fire, it’s still moving toward the nuke dump. Republic has built a couple of interceptor wells to keep it from getting to the nukes, but it has unfortunately move past them.
Some of the authorities say not to worry because they have a plan, but the Attorney General has stated he doesn’t think the landfill company has the site under control.

So who do you listen to, right?

* Visit our nuclear map for fun facts (you never heard of) about nukes.
**There are lots of underground fires burning around the world including 98 coal mine fires smoldering right in the USA. Some have been going on for 50 years.
***Wind direction can be a big

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