Science and Technology

Fantail Media / Flickr

Ameren Missouri has begun cleaning up a Superfund site in downtown Columbia that is contaminated by tars from a former manufactured-gas plant.

The utility plans to remove about 36,000 tons of dirt from the site and truck it to the Jefferson City landfill. Work is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The manufactured-gas plant was located at the site from 1875 to 1932. The company used the site for its headquarters after coal gasification ended.

Courtesy of Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Update 11.21 a.m. 1/15/14: MDC reports the wolf was shot by the landowner while hunting. The department says wolves can be mistaken for coyotes sometimes, though coyotes rarely grow to more than 30 pounds. Coyotes may be taken by hunting with the right permit.

A report says Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital failed to provide a safe environment for a 78-year-old man beaten to death last year at the Columbia facility.

The report for the Veterans Affairs Heartland Network was included in materials released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Columbia Daily Tribune.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants more air monitoring at the Bridgeton Landfill, where an underground fire has been smoldering for more than three years.

Attorney General Koster asked the St. Louis County Circuit Court on Thursday to order the landfill's owner to collect more data on carbon monoxide emissions.

ToastyKen / Flickr

Human settlement on Mars is a long way away, but two St. Louis-area residents are on the short list to be among the first settlers of the Red Planet.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 29-year-old Maggie Duckworth of Bridgeton and 26-year-old Tim Gowan of University City are among the 1,058 initial candidates chosen from a pool of 200,000 who applied for a one-way trip to Mars as part of the privately funded Mars One mission.

Sam Lin / KBIA

The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to increase the city’s renewable energy mandate. By 2018, Columbia Water and Light will now need to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources – up from 10 percent as spelled out in the renewable energy mandate passed by Columbia voters in 2004. The future goals were also increased to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029. The previous goal for 2023 was 15 percent and there was no goal set for 2029.

First Ward Councilmember Fred Schmidt was one of the councilmembers that voted to pass the change 5-2.

“The energy future and the environmental future calls for this – for doing something and I believe this is the right step. We don’t know what the future is going to hold, so we shoot for a multiplicity of sources,” Schmidt said.

Kenton Lohraff

The Eastern Hellbender is a giant salamander that has been around for millions of years. 

execution gurney
California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

Missouri has put two people to death since last November, with another execution scheduled for late January. St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra have been looking into the state's secretive and controversial lethal injection process. They've discovered the state may be ignoring its own laws in carrying out the death penalty.

 

Columbia city officials say they hope an energy-efficient home will be a model for future low-income housing projects.

Habitat for Humanity is building the "net-zero" home, which includes solar panels and a solar water heater, low-flow plumbing fixtures and LED lighting.

It's the first time the organization has built such a home, which also has 45 percent more insulation than previous homes. The home also will be completely accessible to the disabled.

It’s winter again in St. Louis ― and that means the start of flu season.

Dr. Faisal Khan with the St. Louis County Department of Health says he’s seen a sharp spike in the number of reported flu cases in the past couple of weeks.

He says that quick uptick is normal for this time of year, and it’s too soon to tell whether the current pattern will continue.

ShedBOy^ / Flickr

Christmas trees whose holiday purpose has expired can be donated as homes for fish.

The Missouri Department of Conservation uses the natural trees to establish fish habitat in two St. Louis-area lakes. Officials say man-made lakes do not have much fish habitat, and the trees provide woody cover.

Alex E. Proimos / FLICKR

Missouri is preparing to start screening every newborn baby for a heart disease that can cause developmental delays or death if left untreated.

The screenings for critical congenital heart disease are required under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1.

Rosemary / Flickr

This Monday marks another big deadline under the Affordable Care Act. That's the last day that people can sign up for insurance through the online marketplace and have their coverage begin on January 1.

Harum Helmy / KBIA

Consumers who want to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act have until Monday to enroll in a plan that would start on Jan. 1. But HealthCare.gov still has kinks that frustrate many consumers and navigators. KBIA’s Harum Helmy followed one Columbia resident’s journey with the website. 

Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

 

The animal shot and killed by a hunter last month was a canine, wandered the woods and showed no signs of escape from captivity. But was it a wolf?

Scientists with the Missouri Department of Conservation are using DNA testing to find out.

jay nixon
File Photo / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon has developed a proposal to help more Missourians pursue careers in mental health care.

helicopter
born1945 / flickr

A helicopter ambulance company that operates in 15 states has chosen the northeastern Missouri city of Moberly for a new base.

Battle over homegrown solar energy continues

Dec 17, 2013
Meredith Turk / KBIA News

The fight over Proposition C continues.

Randall Hyman

This week, we’ll hear from a Missouri-based photojournalist about his experience documenting climate change in the Norwegian Arctic, and learn how new technology is being used in Columbia's public schools.

students in classroom
Brad Flickinger / Flickr

Grants for laptops and iPads in recent years have put more technology in the hands of Columbia Public Schools students .

Randall Hyman

Randall Hyman is a St. Louis-based photojournalist and writer. For more than three decades, he has traveled the globe covering cultural and environmental issues.

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m.

The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants.

In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008.

Compiled by Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 4,124 Missouri residents have selected a health insurance plan through the federally run online marketplace healthcare.gov.

The department released the figures Wednesday. HHS said the insurance exchange had more than 31,000 applications from Missouri through Nov. 30. The applications sought coverage for nearly 63,000 people.

Wetland helps keep Hinkson Creek clean

Dec 6, 2013
Kyle Winker / KBIA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing to check the progress of a wetland constructed in Columbia this past summer. The city funded part of the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands, which is located off of the MKT trail behind Katy Place Apartments, with $45,000 from the city’s park sales tax. 3M Company provided the initial seed money of $40,000.

Horia Varlan via Flickr

Some Missouri drivers are changing the way they get around their communities, that’s according to a report released by the Missouri Public Interest Research Group on Wednesday. That report said that the rate of cars commuting in Missouri’s urbanized areas has declined. At the same time, the report also shows that the use of alternative transportation has increased over the years. 

Alec Sprague, Midwest advocate of MoPIRG, said the report could bring changes to policy making.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and scientists have long understood that what lives beneath the soil affects how crops grow. Often, they work to fight plant diseases—warding off infectious viruses and damaging fungi, for example. But now some microbiologists are focused on how to harness the good things microbes can do, with the goal of increasing farmers’ yields and diminishing their dependence on chemical inputs.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This week, we'll hear how scientists are using microbes to increase crop yields, and learn about a new wetland in Columbia.

missouri capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

The Department of Health and Senior Services has appointed Missouri’s first dental director in more than a decade.

Dr. Ray Storm is a dentist from the St. Louis area. He founded Give Kids a Smile, a nonprofit that holds annual free dental clinics for children in need. The Missouri Oral Health Coalition helped raise the funds to reinstate the position in the state. Gary Harbison, the coalition’s director, said he’s pleased with Storm’s appointment.

bird
Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

Listening to birds sing and talk is probably something we all take for granted at times.

The University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) is changing its maintenance schedule to ensure global supply of radioisotopes does not run out.

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