Missouri Department of Natural Resources | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposal for tackling polluted runoff in Missouri's largest lakes.

But environmentalists say the EPA's plan, like the state's plan that was released in October, is not strong enough to address pollution. 

Missouri does not set limits for nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that can cause fish kills and create dead zones in excessive quantities. A Clean Water Act settlement last year with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment required the EPA to devise a rule to regulate nutrient pollution in Missouri's lakes by Dec. 15, unless the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed its own proposal by that date. The state failed to submit a plan by the deadline. 

A charging Nissan Leaf.
Nissan

It's rare for utility companies and environmental groups to agree. But both want the state of Missouri to spend its share of last year's national Volkswagen settlement on electric vehicles and charging stations. 

After the German automaker agreed to spend billions to settle allegations of cheating  emissions standards, Missouri received $41.2 million. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has held several meetings to determine how to spend the money.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson County is one step closer to attaining the federal clean air standard for sulfur dioxide, a noxious gas that can cause asthma and respiratory illness.

The Missouri Air Conservation Commission on Thursday approved the state's recommendation to the Environmental Protection Agency that the county's sulfur dioxide levels are within the federal limit of 75 parts per billion.

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

Missouri will soon adopt new regulations to clean up the state’s 150 large lakes and reservoirs.

But environmentalists contend the state’s plan won’t be strong enough to address pollution caused by harmful nutrients.

Missouri currently does not set limits on nitrogen and phosphorus. A combination of agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plant discharges and other sources can cause an excessive amount of the nutrients to enter lakes, rivers and streams. Nutrient pollution can render bodies of water unsuitable for drinking and recreation, cause fish kills, and drag down oxygen levels to create “dead zones,” similar to the one that exists in the Gulf of Mexico. 

A concentrated animal feeding operation consisting of black and white dairy cows all in a row, feeding from a trough.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has rejected demands from a group of central Missouri residents to impose air quality regulations for all concentrated animal feeding operations, regardless of size.

The state's odor rule for confined animal feeding operations only apply to the largest concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, a DNR official told the residents last week. Class 1A CAFOs in Missouri contain at least 17,500 hogs, 7,000 cows or 700,000 chickens.

Gas extraction wells on the Bridgeton Landfill in summer 2016.
File Photo |Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and environmental activists expressed concerns at a public hearing Wednesday night that the state's pending stormwater permit for the Bridgeton Landfill does not require monitoring for radioactive waste. 

The Bridgeton Landfill sits above an underground smoldering fire, located about 600 feet from the World War II-era radioactive waste that's under the West Lake Landfill Superfund site. Concerns about radioactive contamination in stormwater rose over the summer, when the Missouri Department of Natural Resources released a report showing levels of alpha particles in runoff at Bridgeton Landfill that exceeded drinking water standards after heavy rains in late April. Alpha particles are a type of radiation that does not pierce the skin and must be ingested to damage human health.

A rendering of the St. Louis Ice Center at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The National Park Service has ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to stop construction work for a proposed ice recreation facility in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

In a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last Friday, the federal agency expressed its concerns about the St. Louis Ice Center.

"We are concerned that the Ice Center would act as a stand-alone attraction and would not encourage further outdoor recreation at the rest of the site," wrote Carol Edmondson, an outdoor recreation planner at the National Park Service.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade Jefferson County's air quality status, now that levels of sulfur dioxide have dropped below the federal limit. 

In 2013, the EPA designated Jefferson County as "nonattainment," or not meeting the federal standard for sulfur dioxide, a gas that produces toxic odors and causes respiratory problems. A monitor near the Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum detected sulfur dioxide levels above 200 parts per billion, said Kyra Moore, director of the state's air quality control program. After the smelter closed in 2013, levels have dropped well below the 75 parts per billion limit. 

Big Spring State Park
Missouri Division of Tourism | Flickr

Missouri’s recent state park windfall, which came at the end of former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s tenure, is in jeopardy.

Four of the parks, scattered across the Ozarks, were shuttered or never opened. Republican legislators said there just isn’t the money to maintain the parks and some have suggested selling the land to private developers.

But all of those parks are near active mining operations, raising fears among environmentalists that now-protected land will become a for-profit enterprise.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a Missouri case with the potential to open grant programs to parochial schools.

Echo Bluff State Park
Courtesy of Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri House approved a measure last week that would block the creation of state parks until maintenance on the nearly 100 existing parks is completed.

Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources

Jay Nixon received a nice parting gift from the Department of Natural Resources a few days before stepping down as governor: a new state park that bears his name.

But Jay Nixon State Park may soon have a new name if Republican lawmakers have their way.

Gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens looks at his ballot before sitting down to vote at the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Tuesday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Of the four constitutional amendments passed by Missouri voters on Tuesday, rumblings have started about legal challenges to three of them.

An underground fire has been smoldering in the southern part of the Bridgeton Landfill for more than four years. Now the state is concerned the north quarry may also be heating up.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

This story was updated Oct. 20 with a response from Republic Services — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has ordered Bridgeton Landfill LLC owner Republic Services to study the increased groundwater contamination detected at the site.

In a letter addressed to Republic Services engineer Erin Fanning last Friday, MDNR engineer Charlene Fitch provided a detailed review of groundwater sampling reports that span from October 2014 to April 2016. The sampling was conducted by a contractor hired by Republic Services. It noted increasing levels of hazardous substances that exceed federal levels, particularly benzene, which can increase the risk of cancer to those exposed to it.

Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources

The first of six ballot measures before Missouri voters this November has not generated any controversy – so far. Constitutional Amendment 1 would renew the state's parks and soils tax for another 10 years. 

Coldwater Creek turned a milky white over the first weekend of October.
Julie Hartwell via Facebook

Updated Oct. 4 with details on the contamination source — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has identified a paving company as the source of the white contamination that appeared in Coldwater Creek over the weekend. 

In a statement released Tuesday, the state agency said an accident caused a truck carrying a chemical called Modifier A/NA, an additive used to make concrete, to spill the product into the creek. The St. Peters-based Pavement Solutions was responsible for transporting the chemical.

The concrete additive has low toxicity to humans and aquatic life, according to a Materials Safety Data Sheet for the product.

Sara Parker Pauley
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri Department of Conservation has found its new director, and didn't have to look far.

Sara Parker Pauley is moving to Conservation from the Department of Natural Resources. She was appointed to that position by Gov. Jay Nixon in December 2010.

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A special master has allowed the state to proceed with groundwater testing at wells in the portion of the West Lake Landfill where World War II-era radioactive waste has been detected. The decision Wednesday in a circuit court of St. Louis County comes after landfill owner Republic Services tried to stop the testing from moving forward. The tests were scheduled to begin Aug. 22, but the work was delayed when Republic Services attorney Peter Daniel wrote Assistant Attorney General Thais Folta to inform her the company would not permit the sampling.

Missouri Department of Conservation's wildlife biologist Shelly Colatskie conducting a survey at a gray bat cave on Norman's property.
Provided by Nick Norman

A group of residents in Franklin County want to sue state and local officials for authorizing a gravel mining project that could threaten the gray bat, an endangered species. 

The Citizens for Preservation of the Meramec River on Aug 3., filed a notice to sue the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission and Meramec Aggregates, Inc.  The Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is representing the 25-member group.

A worker for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources collects a soil sample as part of testing for radioactive contamination around West Lake Landfill.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, with information from the EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will clean up radioactive contamination confirmed to be found in soil on private property adjacent to the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. 

On the Eleven Point
Charlie Llewellin | Flickr

In the wilderness of southern Missouri, 44 miles of the Eleven Point River is part of the National Wild and Scenic River system. Part of the river is nestled between the Mark Twain National Forest and a historically rich parcel called the Irish Wilderness. As the river descends to the Missouri-Arkansas border, cattle grazing intermingles with the edge of the forest.

Now, Missouri is considering developing the southern part of the river into a state park. But the park has become controversial -- both for its very existence and for the money used to buy it.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation is being considered in the Missouri House that would block the Nixon administration from creating a new state park in the southern part of the state.

Two bills heard Monday by a House committee would force the Department of Natural Resources to sell any land set aside for the new park that was purchased using funds from lead mining settlements.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The owners of the Bridgeton Landfill are facing fines from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources over noncompliance with emissions monitoring requirements.

According to a letter from Leanne Mosby, the DNR’s division director, Bridgeton Landfill LLC will be penalized up to $10,000 per violation, per day until the company resolves the issues. According to the letter the company:

Current and Jacks Fork rivers
National Parks Service

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a major overhaul of Missouri's water quality standards.

The state approved the new regulations in November 2013 but needed federal approval to start enforcing them.

Map provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 7/3/14 with a link to the state's finalized Incident Management Plan for the Bridgeton Landfill.

State agency officials are concerned that the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill could break through to the surface.

That scenario was raised in a recent memo by landfill fire expert Todd Thalhamer, who has been consulting for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

This map shows the approximate location of groundwater drinking wells near Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County. It was created based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data.
Labadie Environmental Organization

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is hosting a meeting on Tuesday to get public input on Ameren's plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Franklin County.

The meeting will focus on whether the agency should grant Ameren a landfill construction permit.

Ameren Missouri's Vice President of External Affairs and Communications, Warren Wood, said the new coal ash landfill will be state-of-the-art.

Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m. with quote by Sara Parker Pauley; updated at 3:41 p.m. with quote by Lorin Crandall.

The Missouri Clean Water Commission has approved a sweeping regulatory overhaul of the state's water quality standards.

(via Google Maps)

Updated at 3:45 p.m. on August 14, 2013 and at 11:10 a.m. on August 15, 2013 (to add comment from Ameren).

Another St. Louis County official is calling for tighter pollution controls at Ameren's Meramec power plant.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley today released a letter he sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the agency to pursue sulfur dioxide controls at the Meramec plant.

(Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

State agencies from Illinois and Missouri are holding a public meeting Tuesday evening in Cahokia, Ill. to discuss plans to address environmental pollution in and around Sauget, Ill.

Tom Heavisides of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says old landfills and industrial facilities in the Sauget area of St. Clair County have contaminated soil and water.

(Map created for the Labadie Environmental Organization based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data)

Environmental groups are once again urging state officials to require groundwater monitoring at Ameren’s coal-fired power plants in eastern Missouri.

The Sierra Club and Labadie Environmental Organization submitted a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Thursday asking the state not to allow Ameren to build new coal ash landfills before testing groundwater for contamination.

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