A steam pipe rupture that occurred last week in downtown St. Louis is said to have spewed dirt and asbestos debris across an entire city block, explains an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Now locals are concerned about what’s left sitting around in the dust and debris that remains.
According to the account of the incident, inspectors have not yet been able to determine why the pipe ruptured last Thursday, a typical, busy weekday in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The pipe, buried some 12-15 feet under the ground, is owned by Trigen-St. Louis Energy Corp., which operates a 17-mile-long underground steam loop. The energy company has provided heat to downtown users since 1922 and reports show that the equipment has been fairly safe and reliable, with the last rupture occurring in 1997.
Though clean up is now mostly complete, city officials are waiting to receive the results of surface sample testing, which should determine whether or not there is asbestos contamination. “We hope the samples will be returned quickly, and we get a clean bill of health,” said Dan Dennis, general manager of Trigen-St. Louis Energy. Monitoring of air samples has been ongoing as well, Dennis noted. He added that he wasn’t concerned about dealing with the degree of asbestos exposure that would cause diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis because the concentrations of asbestos fibers in the air haven’t been over the legal limit.
Dennis hopes the surface sample testing will show similar results. Test results should be available within the next few days. In the meantime, the remaining dirt around the pipe must be removed slowly by asbestos-certified excavators and taken to a landfill that allows for the disposal of toxic waste.