People often aren’t aware of the harmful chemicals they put down their drains and how those substances might impact the environment. These chemicals can create toxic landfills, presenting a serious problem that is difficult for waste management companies to overcome.
As toxic dumps smolder, the air pollution risks increase. For example, residents near the West Lake landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri, have complained of lung problems caused by toxic fumes from radioactive waste dumped there and related to the U.S. government's Manhattan Project. Some residents have lung cancer thought to be caused by the toxic fumes.
Republic Services owns the landfill. Bill Gates is a major shareholder in the company.
Republic Services held its annual shareholders meeting in Phoenix on May 9. Teamsters with the Solid Waste and Recycling Division showed up for the meeting, along with community activist Beth Roach, to protest what the Teamsters believe is mismanagement of landfills as well as an unresponsiveness to the local communities impacted.
This isn’t the first time the Teamsters have attempted to make an impact on the landfill problem. On May 4, the Teamsters lodged a "formal human rights complaint" with the United Nations against Republic Services in regard to the company's radioactive landfills. In that complaint, the union was joined by the two founders of local activist group JustMoms STL and the founder of the Center for Health and Environment Justice.
Their report tackled the ongoing problems with the West Lake Bridgeton landfill. The group continues to call for the company to be accountable for its actions by doing something to rectify the problem and has asked that the government intercede.
However, residents across America can prevent similar toxic issues from arising in their own landfills by:
Beth Roach, who lives in a community impacted by Republic's actions, said: "[The company has] already spilled beryllium and who knows whatever else into our water, now Republic wants to get a permit to massively expand toxic coal ash dumping in our community." Roach believes the company has already proven that it isn't capable of handling waste and keeping the community safe.
While nothing has yet come from the complaint filed with the United Nations, additional action may be required from the company to ensure it is accountable for the impact of the toxic fumes.
Anum Yoon is a writer who is passionate about personal finance and sustainability. She often looks for ways she can incorporate money management with environmental awareness. You can read her updates on <a href="http://www.currentoncurrency.com>Current on Currency</a>.