From Left: Sam Page, Jake Zimmerman and Mark Mantovani
By Don Corrigan
(This story has been updated to add candidate Jamie Tolliver’s position on environmental issues.)
In a tough Aug. 4 primary for St. Louis County Executive, three Democrats have put the focus on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, loss of jobs, gun violence and race relations. However, that doesn’t mean environmental issues are totally off their radar.
The cleanup of radioactive contamination in North County, a legacy of the role of St. Louis in developing and manufacturing atomic bombs, has never been off their radar screens. They want the contaminated West Lake Landfill addressed as well as Coldwater Creek areas. In particular, they want to make sure the EPA follows through on its commitment to clean up West Lake.
See more environmental information and quotes from the candidates below.
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Photo: Missouri Department of Natural Resources
People should be able to identify blooms and know potential health risks and the symptoms of exposure.
As people head out to enjoy the outdoors this summer, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources wants everyone to stay safe by being aware of possible harmful algae blooms in Missouri waterways. It is important to know what harmful algae blooms are, how to identify them and understand the potential health risks both to people and their pets.
Harmful algae blooms are clusters of cyanobacteria, often referred to as blue-green algae, that can grow in lakes, ponds and slow-moving or pooled streams. Cyanobacteria are capable of producing dangerous toxins that can cause illness and even death in people and animals. While they typically appear during summer and early fall, harmful algae blooms can occur any time of year.
Center for Missouri Studies. Credit line: SHSMO/Notley Hawkins.
The State Historical Society of Missouri recently received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for its new building that opened in August 2019. Gold is one of the highest certification levels awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure the environmental sustainability and performance of a building.
“The initial planning stages of our new facility included design and materials that would prioritize efficiency, be a healthy building for staff and patrons and decrease operational costs,” said Gerald Hirsch, senior associate executive director of the State Historical Society. “We are very proud that Missouri’s history and art is housed in a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building that used materials sourced from our state.”
West Lake Landfill
By Don Corrigan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of the third annual National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse awards. The Weldon Spring atomic site, located in St. Charles, Missouri, receives one of three awards given nationally.
Pictured above: Dawn Chapman (Left) and Karen Nickel, co-founders of Just Moms STL.
Dawn Chapman, a leader of Just Moms STL, which has been battling for the remediation of the West Lake atomic site in the Bridgeton area across from St. Charles, is not so impressed by the award for Weldon Spring.
“If we are being honest, the federal government polluted the hell out of this area during the atomic bomb production era,” said Chapman. “Then it let everything just sit around leaking for decades — some of it sitting next to a high school. The government let radioactive waste get into ponds and streams, then knowingly allowed and even encouraged people to hunt and fish there.”
The Weldon Spring DOE LM Site, comprised of a former Chemical Plant and Quarry, has a complex history, according to the EPA. It played a pivotal role in the success of World War II and the Cold War, according to EPA, and the 228-acre site, located about 25 miles west of St. Louis, has been revitalized for beneficial reuse as a community educational center and recreational site.
EPA officials said new Weldon Spring Interpretive Center features exhibits designed to fulfill DOE’s post-closure responsibilities. The center informs and educates the public about long-term stewardship and the site’s historical legacy. An important educational focus is on risk communication, showing how cleanup activities made the site safe for public use. Other redevelopment highlights include community use facilities and a natural prairie habitat, which promotes wildlife conservation.
Sarah Schlafly, CEO of Mighty Cricket, with Jacob Pratt, general manager for St. Louis area FroYo locations.
St. Louis Startup Combats COVID-19 Meat Shortages
As grocery store meat cases empty, some consumers are seeking alternative sources of protein – from insects. This is exactly what St. Louis startup Mighty Cricket had been anticipating when it launched in 2018 with its line of all-natural cricket protein powders, decadent protein oatmeals, and wholesome protein pancake mix.
Mighty Cricket’s founder, Sarah Schlafly, explained, “Mighty Cricket was born out of the realization that the whole nation is food insecure. Our nation’s food system is incredibly fragile. One major catastrophe and we’re all suffering from food supply issues.”
Determined to create a sustainable food system, Mighty Cricket launched with a mission to build a clean protein supply to sustain the world.
Schlafly’s concerns about the U.S. food system was realized during the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chain issues forced farmers to destroy millions of pounds of fresh foods. In a letter published recently by John Tyson, chairman of the board at Tyson Foods, Tyson echoes Schlafly’s alarm, “The food supply chain is breaking.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a total of $1,030,000 to 23 Missouri school districts and one Missouri school bus transportation company to replace 52 older diesel school buses.
The funds are part of $11.5 million to replace 580 buses for 157 school bus fleets in 43 states and Puerto Rico, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage. The program awarded the funds in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
“Earth Day’s primary goal is to protect the environment for future generations. These rebates help do just that by continuing to improve air quality across the country and providing children with a safe and healthy way to get to school,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While many fleets are currently off the road, when these local school districts start up again, EPA and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act have helped equip them with cleaner running buses, moving farther along the route to healthier kids and communities.”
Photo courtesy Saint Louis Zoo
A new scientific study authored by Saint Louis Zoo researchers concludes that immersive, naturalistic exhibits in zoos can elicit positive changes in physiological and psychological measures of health and well-being of visitors. In other words – a visit to the zoo is good for your health!
The study titled “Changes in human health parameters associated with an immersive exhibit experience at a zoological institution” was published on Friday, April 17, 2020, in PLOS ONE.
“At a time when the number of people living in urban areas is on the rise, and humans and the natural world are more disconnected, we are now fully realizing why we need the human-animal-nature bond to ensure public health,” said Sharon Deem, DVM, Ph.D., Director of Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine and senior author of the study. “The evidence from this study supports the role of zoos and other green spaces in providing health benefits to zoo visitors,” said Deem.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is excited to announce the launch of its new podcast, Nature Boost, with a focus on the positive impact the outdoors has on each of us.
Research has shown that spending time outdoors is linked to an increase in overall physical health. Being outside has also proven to help decrease stress and anxiety, and help lower depression. For example, spending time in nature, conservation areas, backyards, and urban parks may ease stress levels, including increasing attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent.
“We’re very excited to share this Nature Boost experience with both our seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and those brand new to discovering nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “It’s a chance to learn about the incredible natural resources we have right here in Missouri, including how those nature experiences are changing lives every day.”
by Don Corrigan
“I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.” Several readers sent this piece of humor to me about a month ago. Unfortunately, it’s still relevant in the continuing age of the 2020 Pandemic.
I shopped at several grocery stores just in the last week. The squeeze on Charmin supplies is still ongoing. The cupboards were bare at several stores, except for a sign about rationing – only one package of Charmin, Angel, Coronet or Cottonelle per customer.
Toilet paper is still one of the most coveted items for care packages being assembled at local food banks and beyond. Rolls of paper are gladly accepted at Webster-Rock Hill Ministries. State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, has put out a call for this essential commodity for those in need on so many levels.