Steam system that burned toddler now under new management -

Steam system that burned toddler now under new management

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Lila stepped on a manhole cover marked “Steam” in the park, just for a split-second, and badly burned her bare feet. (Credit: KMOV) Lila stepped on a manhole cover marked “Steam” in the park, just for a split-second, and badly burned her bare feet. (Credit: KMOV)

A little girl burned in Kiener plaza, a historic restaurant concerned for customers' safety, an explosion of a manhole cover downtown.

They've all got one thing in common: the steam system in St. Louis.

Now, News 4 has learned new owners are taking over.

A recently formed investor group created a company called Ashley Energy. They purchased the assets of the Ashley Power Plant from Trigen, a subsidiary of Veolia. The sale was finalized Aug. 9.

Now, the leadership of Ashley Energy has indicated that repairs to the system are on the way.

That’s something that Gary Neal has been seeking for a very long time.

“I've let them know that it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or burned,” Neal said.

Neal is General Manager of Al’s Restaurant in the Near North Riverfront Neighborhood.

For months, he’s had to look at white hot steam billowing from a giant yellow barrel just steps away.

The steam is coming from a leak in a century-old underground steam distribution system that services big business downtown and begins at the iconic Ashley plant nearby the restaurant.

Neal says the leak has caused damage to their equipment and dangerous conditions for their customers. He also complained about graffiti, tall weeds and general lack of maintenance at the power plant.

“I wouldn't wish what we have been going through on our worst enemy,” he said.

City officials blamed a leak in the very same steam system for burning Lila Stephens in the newly re-opened Kiener Plaza earlier this summer.

The line underneath was shut down until the fall and officials erected a barricade to surround the cover.

The loop of underground lines that bring steam to businesses throughout downtown is technically owned by a non-profit called the Solid Waste Management and Development Corporation. That organization is run by three St. Louis City officials.

The plant itself has been owned by private entities, most recently Trigen. That is, until now.

Trigen’s assets were purchased by the start-up Ashley Energy.

Ashley Energy took over and leaders are now promising repairs at Kiener Plaza and at Al's Restaurant.

“We are going to get that taken care of, we planned for that in our resource planning. We know some things are out there, we know we've got to get them, get them repaired,” said Dan Dennis, who is Vice President of Ashley Energy and is now running the plant.

Dennis says they're hoping to revitalize the distinctive building and the steam business itself.

“Now we have this big facility that could spur investment in the area,” Dennis said.

KMOV is supplied steam by that plant, so is Busch Stadium and a number of other big businesses.

Dennis told Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager they are hoping for other big customers too, like the new National Geospatial Agency facility on the Northside.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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