Got Sewage?

30 08 2012

St. Louis Composting’s Patrick Geraty hooks up with a national syndicate that peddles sewage. 

by Bill Newmann

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle 

I have learned in the past that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you can be on the menu,” says Patrick Geraty, owner of St. Louis Composting Inc., the region’s largest commercial composter.

Geraty made the revealing comment to the board of directors of the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) late last year.  As part of his pitch to gain a board seat, Geraty also proposed adopting an advertising blitz similar to the now-famous mantra: “Got Milk?

The St. Louis businessman’s proposition is part of a recurring public relations barrage aimed at cleaning up an industry image sullied by its involvement in the toxic waste trade.

Geraty now dines at both the tables of the USCC and its governmental counterpart, the Missouri Solid Waste Advisory Board. The private and public agencies regulate wood waste – St. Louis Composting’s main raw material. But they also regulate another waste that’s being incorporated into compost with increasing frequency: sewage sludge.

Sewage sludge is raw sewage minus water. Raw sewage is everything that gets flushed down toilets and drains, including household, industrial, and medical wastes. Water-treatment plants collect raw sewage, and their main goal is to recover as much clean water as possible for reuse. The leftovers form a concentrated, toxic stew.

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Party Boy

29 07 2012
Mardi Gras reveller Stacy Hastie and his pals opened their wallets to Mayor Slay and then cleaned up with a windfall in state brownfields tax credits.

by Will Delaney                                                                             

CPA  and environmental clean-up expert Stacy Hastie toasting the good life.

The Facebook photo shows St. Louis businessman Stacy Hastie quaffing a beer at a party. Two bottles of Jagermeister can be seen sitting on the counter in the background along with other liquor and wine. It may not be the most flattering image, but it appears to capture a certain panache of a man who enjoys the full pleasures of life. Other online snapshots show the chairman and chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Environmental Operations Inc. reigning over the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at City Hall in February. He donned a crown and regal robe for that occasion.

Obviously, Hastie knows how to party. He’s been at it a long time. And partying – with the right people – is a way of establishing and maintaining connections in the hazy world where business and politics merge.

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Crapper’s Legacy

5 06 2012

WPA laborers completed the River Des Peres project during the Great Depression.

MSD belatedly cleans up its act and dumps the cost on ratepayers

The River Des Peres near Chippewa Avenue.

By Will Delaney

The current dilemma faced by St. Louisans can be traced back to Thomas Crapper, the English plumber who popularized the flush toilet in the late 19th Century.

Crapper, of course, could never have predicted the environmental or economic consequences that indoor plumbing would have on modern society, but voters here certainly will have to grapple with the issue when they go to the polls today to consider passage of the $945 million Metropolitan Sewer District bond issue.

If passed, the bonds will finance the first four years of a $4.7 billion, 23-year project that will radically reduce the amount of raw sewage that pours into the Mississippi River.

The next time property taxpayers relieve themselves they may wish to contemplate the fecal history that led to this exorbitantly expensive proposition. The core of this sordid tale is a dirty little secret that involves MSD’s non-compliance with the federal Clean Water Act since the inception of the law in 1972.  To be fair, however, MSD inherited the mess. By the time the district was founded in 1954, some city sewers were already a century old, while burgeoning suburban St. Louis County had more than 500 unregulated sewage systems.

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