Baseball Tournament Moved from Bridgeton Following Concerns about Radioactive West Lake Landfill

By Bernhard, Blythe | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Baseball Tournament Moved from Bridgeton Following Concerns about Radioactive West Lake Landfill


Bernhard, Blythe, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The third annual Cinco de Mayo Slugfest youth baseball tournament scheduled for this weekend will be moved from the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex to fields in Florissant, Bellefontaine Neighbors and Hazelwood after tests that indicate potential high levels of radiation at the Bridgeton site.

"We're moving from that location in the best interest of our company and our customers," tournament director Dave Schmidt said. "We hope to be back at Bridgeton in the very near future." Schmidt said 95 teams from around the Midwest were planning to attend the tournament. His company, Game 7 Baseball based in Maryland Heights, received numerous calls and emails from concerned parents, he said.

The tests, however, were organized by residents concerned about the nearby radioactive West Lake Landfill and have yet to be analyzed by a lab. The Environmental Protection Agency has maintained that areas outside the landfill are safe.

Jerrold Bushberg, director of health physics programs at the University of California-Davis, said the radiation data were inconclusive without a lab analysis but did not look exceptionally high. Bushberg also stressed that radiation is found naturally in the environment, including in soil, air and food, and can fluctuate without causing health concerns.

"The count rates from what I can see don't look particularly alarming and are at a relatively low level," Bushberg said.

Officials with the city of Bridgeton said in a written release to the media that it was unfortunate the tournament was being moved based on speculation.

"Besides being an inconvenience to participating teams, it is also affecting the people who are employed there as well as the businesses in the area," the statement said.

A spike of gamma radiation was found in one soil sample collected last week from a drainage ditch in a parking lot at the Bridgeton athletic complex, which sits less than a mile from the landfill. Tests were not conducted on soil from the ball fields.

The radiation tests were organized by residents after an attorney suing the landfill's owner donated a $16,000 radiation detector. An engineer conducted the tests, which are being analyzed at a lab in Wisconsin and by the EPA, which oversees West Lake under its Superfund toxic sites program. …

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