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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Carondelet Coke makes the Mayor's blog. Did it do something wrong?

Today's post in the blog attributed to Mayor Slay is about Carondelet Coke, a massive, vacant former coke production plant on the riverfront in (you guessed it) Carondelet. The tag line is "What to give the urbanist on your holiday list?" Nice try, but the massive, street-blockin', mono-use site that monopolizes a large section of city waterfront don't exactly fall in the category of what an urbanist would consider even vaguely urban. (Mind you, I'm quite fond of the surreal ruins of Carondelet Coke, but it's not urban.)

But here is the more important part. The author of the blog sez:

"It is offered “as is” – and may require environmental remediation."

MAY require remediation? The site is/was a COKE PRODUCTION PLANT. Coke is a byproduct of petroleum. Coke production is one of the most toxic industrial processes known to humanity--no exaggeration. Study after study after study has found that byproducts of coal production lead to the growth of cancer in human and lab animal skin and lungs. (Try Googling "coke production" together with "cancer" and you'll get a lot of relevant reading.) I'm hoping that this comment was intended to be cute, but not everyone reading would know enough about the site to realize that. When the subject is this grave, it's just not funny.


Rick Bonasch said...

What about relocating Praxair to this location, and developing the site with Brownfield's tax credits?

Anonymous said...

So what besides Rick's great idea on Praxair might be good for the City's largest brownfield for sale?

St. Louis Chapter of Gamblers Anonymous (with people-mover from Pinnacle across RDP and revolving-door entrance)

World's Largest White Castle and Museum (with replica Hampton-Chippewa stand encased inside, plus ample parking, multiple drive-thrus and world's largest grease pit outside)

River Des Peres "Yacht" Club (with marina for southsider pontoons, aka "Bud-Decks," and accommodating RV park for visiting Countians)

Seriously though, even if the State were to issue No Further Action documentation for the Coke site, it would likely not be allowed to have any residential.

Joe said...

Carondelet Coke in the South and SLAAP in the North are two heavily polluted sites which the City/SLDC have targeted for redevelopment.

The MayorSlay.com blog is taking things a little too lightly - I think anybody directly involved with these projects is quite serious about the level of remediation necessary to get either one redeveloped. They have extensive soil contamination because of their past uses, and Federal funds have been approved for their clean-up.

They probably will be fairly suburban-looking redevelopments, though.

Joe said...

Oh, and here's the link to the ACTUAL info about the project.

Carondelet Coke RFP - Proposals due 1/5/06

Somehow, MayorSlay.com does a lousy job of making useful links into the City web site. Yet, they were happy to harvest email addresses from it...

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

I'm not too happy about the idea of Praxair rebuilding within StL at all, and I definitely would not want to see them commanding riverfront land (even if it is too toxic for residential use). Our river is too important for us to continue treating it like a backlot.

I've got a few ideas for the site myself, but I'd like to think a little more before expressing them here.

Anonymous said...

During the flood of 93, there was a large LP-type gas storage facility near the mouth of the River Des Peres that was in serious danger during the flood. The tanks were floating and many feared they'd explode; I remember the pictures in the news well.

Since the flood, has that business remained? Or closed? If they're still there, wouldn't Praxair be a good neighbor?

One of the concerns about relocating Praxair has been to try to accomodate them with another city location.

If not on an industrial site along the river, what other locations would be better?

No one likes locally undesireable (LULU) land uses, but they have to be placed somewhere...

Matt Fernandez said...

^Those tanks were removed a couple of months after the flood. As far as I know, the land where they were is currently vacant.

And people thought the Praxair explosion was big. If those tanks would have gone up we could have said good by to a sizeable chunk of South St. Louis. If I remember right, someone estimated 10-15 square miles of ground could have been destroyed.

Anonymous said...

There is still a chemical plant just west of the Carondelet Coke site along Germania-Marceau. And this plant sits next to Southwest Crossing apartments, which are just east of I-55.

Joe said...

The former site of the infamous 51 propane tanks on S. Broadway next to River des Peres is now owned by Laclede Gas Company. They might be using part of it currently as an asphalt plant. This property is adjacent to the Carondelet Coke site, and has a little bit of frontage on S. Broadway itself.

In 1993, almost the entirety of both Carondelet and Lemay were evacuated as a precaution when those tanks were loosened during the flood. Several thousand families - whose homes never flooded - had to move out for several days, until the situation stabilized. 10-15 square miles seems exaggerated, but they did evacuate everybody east of I-55, from about Loughborough to Ripa Ave.

It also made it hard for me to get to school that summer, coming from South County into the City.

The chemical plant mentioned is a former Monsanto facility on Germania near Alabama, later spun off into Solutia, and still later acquired by Astaris LLC.

Astaris is now owned by ICL (Israel Chemicals Limited) based in Tel Aviv. So is the Carondelet plant. The plant makes phosphates for the baking industry.

Some of the plant flooded in 1993. It is really, really creepy to pass by at night. But, it does provide a fair number jobs.

Anonymous said...

The Carondelet area has a number of challenges - neighborhoods in decline, old industries, and poor infrastructure. It would be great to see these areas be rehabbed.

The sad thing with these industries is they continue to belch out pollutants or store hazardous materials, that will create a BIG problem when spilled. Those drums and tanks at ICI's Carondelet Plant aren't used to hold water! If you have the money to relocate towards downtown, do you really want to live next to these facilities?

And do you want to live atop land that has who-knows-what buried there? This stuff will find its way into your home or life. Is that worth it???