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Sunday Poll: What Would You Like To See Happen To Grant’s Farm?

It’s been in the news the last week or so, six Busch siblings can’t agree on what to do with Grant’s Farm.

Please vote below
Please vote below

The choices are in random order, or you can provide your own brief answer. The poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Underground Landfill Fire More Likely Than Not Will Reach Radioactive Waste Within a Year

None of us know for sure when, if ever, the underground chemical reaction (aka fire) at the Bridgeton Landfill will reach the radioactive waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill. Hopefully it never will.

Bridgeton Landfill, September 2013
Bridgeton Landfill, September 2013

But until something is done — such as an underground concrete barrier — people in the vicinity have reasons to be concerned. For those unfamiliar, here’s some basics.

The Bridgeton Landfill, was originally a farm, then a quarry — which closed in 2005.

On Dec. 23, 2010, Bridgeton Landfill LLC reported to the MDNR that elevated temperatures had been detected in some gas extraction wells in the south quarry of the landfill. The facility began testing the landfill gas and found high levels of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and low levels of methane. All these conditions are indicative of a below-ground, high-temperature chemical reaction, also known as a “subsurface smoldering event” or “underground fire.”

Technically, this is not a “fire” with smoke and flames. Rather, it is a self-sustaining, high-temperature reaction that consumes waste underground, producing rapid “settlement” of the landfill’s surface. (KWMU: Confused about Bridgeton, West Lake landfills? Here’s what you should know — RECOMMENDED)

And radioactive waste at West Lake?

1973: Radioactive waste from the Manhattan project is dumped at the site. St. Louis was one place where uranium and radium were refined for the atomic bombs that were eventually dropped on Japan. A private company eventually bought the waste from the US government in the 1960s to extract minerals.

The waste was eventually crushed like rocks or dirt. The company later mixed the material with five parts of top soil to dilute it. 48,000 tons of contaminated soil was trucked to the landfill and presented as clean fill dirt for spreading on trash. All of this was done at a time when environmental regulation were lax compared with today. (KMOV: Bridgeton Landfill: How the current situation came to pass — RECOMMENDED)

In St. Louis, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works was one of many Manhattan Project sites in the U.S. and Canada.

There isn’t even agreement on the distance between the underground fire and the radioactive material. The corporation that owns the Bridgeton Landfill says 2,500 feet, the EPA & Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster say it is 1,000 feet away.   Last month St. Louis County released has a draft plan for an emergency response to a catastrophic event,

Further reading:

Here are the Sunday Poll results:

Q: Likelihood of Bridgeton Landfill’s underground fire (chemical reaction) reaching radioactive waste in the adjacent Westlake Landfill in a year?

  1. Unsure/No Answer 9 [29.03%]
  2. Very likely 8 [25.81%]
  3. Somewhat likely 6 [19.35%]
  4. Very unlikely 4 [12.9%]
  5. Somewhat unlikely 3 [9.68%]
  6. Neural 1 3.23% [3.23%]

The likely/unlikely ratio is 45.16%/25.58% — with 32.26% in the middle. I received an email about an upcoming town hall meeting tomoerrow:

Open to the public town hall meetings with:

State Representative Bill Otto

Mark Dietrich – St. Louis County Director of Emergency Planning

Dawn Chapman – concerned citizen, admin of Facebook: West Lake Landfill (18000 members) and co-founder of JustMomsSTL

Robbin Dailey – resident of Spanish Village

  

Thursday, Nov 12th 7-9 PM

Graphic Artists Banquet and Conference Center

105 Progress Parkway

Maryland Heights, MO  63043

Sponsored by Parkway Pattonville Democratic Township Club

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Sunday Poll: Likelihood of Landfill Fire Reaching Nearby Nuclear Waste?

November 8, 2015 Environment, Featured, St. Louis County Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Likelihood of Landfill Fire Reaching Nearby Nuclear Waste?
Please vote below
Please vote below

The two landfills in Bridgeton were the subject of a poll here over two years ago, but readers were apathetic about the issue. Lately, it has received national attention:

Underground landfill fires, or “smoldering events” as some officials call them, aren’t rare. What makes the fire at the landfill in Bridgeton, Mo., so unusual is that it’s less than a quarter of a mile from a large deposit of nuclear waste — with no barrier in its way. (Los Angeles Times)

So this seemed like a perfect time to revisit the issue, with a new poll question:

Of course, none of has no definitive way to know — this is a non-scientific way to judge how readers view the likelihood this may become a potentially dangerous regional issue.

Please vote above, share your thoughts below. Poll options are presented in random order, the poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Second Lucky’s Market Now Open In St. Louis Region

In November I posted about the first Lucky’s Market in our region — occupying a space in Ellisville built by Straub’s just a few years before. If you haven’t heard of Luckty’s Market before:

The Lucky’s Market chain was started by a husband-and-wife team 12 years ago in Colorado. As two chefs, the couple wanted a grocery store for food lovers like themselves, so they opened their first store in 2003 to sell specialty foods at affordable prices.

“We really work to meet people on their personal food journey by simply making natural foods more accessible, and doing so in a comfortable and welcoming store environment,” said Krista Torvik, a representative of Lucky’s Market.

Lucky’s sells “never ever” meats, which have never been treated with antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. In addition, customers will be able to find local produce, fresh seafood and baked goods (like maple bacon doughnuts!), alongside bacon that’s been cured and smoked in-house and homemade sausage.

The market also offers ready-to-eat meats, salads and sides that are made in-store daily, plus fresh juices and smoothies at its juice bar.

For shoppers’ convenience, Lucky’s Market still sells consumer favorites like Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup, and the store has a bulk items section. (Ft. Lauderdale Daily)

The new location is at 9530 Manchester Rd, in Rock Hill, much later than originally planned:

The company originally planned to open the Rock Hill store in the first quarter of 2014, but was delayed while the developer, Webster Groves-based Novus Development Co., worked out a funding agreement including a community improvement district with the city.

In the year of delay, the store added over 12,000 square feet to the building plans, Chief Growth Officer Mike Phillips said. Though the company would not disclose construction costs, Vice President of Marketing Ben Friedland said it kept costs as low as possible by using refurbished and used equipment and materials in order to give customers the low prices the grocer advertises. (St. Louis Business Journal)

This is their 13th location nationwide.

The Rock Hill Lucky's Market during the building expansion.
The Rock Hill Lucky’s Market during the building expansion in November 2014.

For 5 years in the early 1990s I worked for a general contractor out of his house located exactly where this store is now! The Schnucks at Manchester & Brentwood is a mile to the East, a Dierbergs Market is a mile to the West — it opened when I worked in the area.

Monday we attended the soft opening as guests of a personal friend who works there. The store opened on Wednesday.
Monday we attended the soft opening as guests of a personal friend who works there. The store opened on Wednesday.
Inside the new Lucky's Market
Inside the new Lucky’s Market

With this Rock Hill location Lucky’s Markets operates 13 stores in 10 states. Five more locations are “coming soon” including one in an 11th state.

By comparison, Trader Joe’s has 457 locations in 39 states and Washington D.C., Whole Foods has 408 locations in 42 U.S. states.  In February 2013 Whole Foods announced a 3rd St. Louis area location, in the Central West End. It was supposed to open by this Fall — but will now open in 2016.

On the other end of the scale, we have local stores like Local Harvest & Fields Foods in the City of St. Louis. It would be interesting to compare the selection & prices at these local stores to places like Lucky’s Market & Whole Foods.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

A Century Since the River Des Peres Flood of 1915

August 20, 2015 Environment, Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design, South City, St. Louis County Comments Off on A Century Since the River Des Peres Flood of 1915

One hundred years ago today St. Louis experienced deadly flooding. The problem wasn’t the Mississippi, it was the River Des Peres!

On the afternoon of Aug. 19, 1915, remnants of a hurricane reached St. Louis from Texas. Heavy and steady rainfall fell through the next day, dumping a total of 7.4 inches across the area. (6.85 inches on Aug. 20 remains the one-day record in St. Louis.)

The River Des Peres rushed from its banks, swamping long stretches of Delmar and Lindell boulevards, Manchester Avenue and other streets. People were stranded on the Wabash Railroad platform at Delmar (now a Metrolink station) by a seven-foot-deep current 200 yards wide. Firefighters reached them with ladders and used boats to rescue residents of Maple and Hodiamont avenues. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch — includes vintage photos)

In August 1915, St. Louis was flooded. All roads leading to the suburbs were cut off, and in Maplewood, the waters reached the second floor of some homes. The water was a mile-wide in Forest Park. Three bridges in the park were washed away, the Zoo’s Bird Cage and Bear Pits were flooded. The platforms at the old Delmar Station were destroyed. Passengers at the Wabash Station were surrounded by seven feet of water and had to be rescued by firefighters. Other people were trapped in their homes, and some even drowned. By the time the disaster was over, 11 people had died and more than 1,000 homes were lost.

The cause of the disaster was not the Mississippi River but the smaller River Des Peres, which ran along the City’s western edge.

River Des Peres, or “River of the Fathers,” was named after two Jesuit priests who founded a mission on its banks around 1700. Problems associated with flood and sewage control became obvious as St. Louis grew. In 1887, city officials planned to drain River Des Peres and Mill Creek. This plan was not completed, though, and River Des Peres had become an open sewer by the early 1900s.
Parts of the river were covered or diverted in preparation for the World’s Fair in 1904, and monitoring of flooding conditions began in 1905. However, no steps had been taken by 1915 that could have prevented the devastating flood that same year. (St. Louis Public Library)

Perhaps the first sewage the River des Peres received was from St. Louis’ Central West End chamberpots. In response to the volume of waste, the city wrote an ordinance in 1887 “to prevent discharge of sewerage or offensive matter of any kind into the River des Peres.” If the city had funded the ordinance, then a separate sewer system would have been built and the River des Peres’ history might have taken a different course. Instead, the government of St. Louis began a trend that has plagued the river for more than a century: St. Louis would support ideas to protect the River des Peres as a sewer more than as a river.

As St. Louis grew westward, so did the expanses of pavement. With less open ground to soak up the rains, the River swelled with runoff. The River des Peres flooded in 1897, 1905, 1912, and 1913. The flood of 1915 killed 11 people and forced 1025 families from their homes. Flooding – not sewage – prompted St. Louisans to action. Mayor Henry W. Kiel called for a hydrologic study, which was completed by W.W. Horner and presented to the St. Louis Board of Public Service in 1916. St. Louis voters chose to implement Horner’s recommendations, which cost $11 million.

The project was called the River des Peres Sewerage and Drainage Works, and it took nine years to complete (from 1924 to 1933). Workers re-graded and paved the River’s banks and straightened its bends. Elsewhere the River was directed below ground to join with the sewer. The engineering innovations brought national recognition for Horner (who was also the project engineer). Scientific American and Engineering News-Record featured the marvelous new River des Peres. In 1988, the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the project as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. (River Des Peres Watershed Coalition)

The bond issue vote was in 1923 — 7 years after the plan was presented.

River Des Peres at S. Broadway, March 2012
River Des Peres at S. Broadway, March 2012
River Des Peres, looking East from Hampton, July 2015
River Des Peres, looking East from Hampton, July 2015
River Des Peres; looking North from Gravois. Tuesday August 18, 2015
River Des Peres; looking North from Gravois. Tuesday August 18, 2015

Problem solved? Wrong.

Explore any city enough, and at some point you’re likely to walk on water, so to speak. San Francisco is full of ghost rivers. So are Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. In the urban core of Baltimore, up to 98 percent of streams are underground. 

Early city planners may have hoped for healthier cities when they covered up these streams, but it turns out they created new problems. Paving over and piping waterways often worsens flooding. And as new research by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency indicates, buried streams can also exacerbate pollution. 

In a paper published in PLOS ONE, lead authors and EPA research scientists Jake Beaulieu and Heather Golden found that nitrates—nutrients that can become pollutants—travel on average 18 times further in buried urban streams than they do in open streams, before they are taken out of the water column. (City Lab)

From February 2014:

Starting in a few days, MSD will begin construction of a 3,028 foot-long tunnel under the River Des Peres, just south of Carondelet.

The tunnel will hold a pressurized pipe that will carry sewage to the Lemay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

MSD spokesperson Lance LeComb said the new pipe will increase the plant’s capacity to take in sewage, and also serve as a back-up in case the existing “force main” ? which dates back to the 1960s ? has a problem.

The project is the first of about a dozen tunnels, totaling nearly 33 miles in length, that the MSD will be digging under St. Louis in the next couple decades. Most of the tunnels will hold a mix of stormwater and sewage. “The longest one will be nine miles long, running underneath the River Des Peres, almost 200 feet below ground,” LeComb said. “And 30 feet in diameter.” (St, Louis Public Radio)

Hopefully this will keep our sewage out of the waterways and not create more problems! The River Des Peres starts in St. Louis County, flash flooding remains an issue.

— Steve Patterson

 

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