City officials are considering safety changes to the newly renovated Kiener Plaza after a little girl was burned over the weekend by a scorching hot manhole cover in the park.
The girl’s feet were burned when she stepped on a cast-iron manhole cover heated by an underground steam leak, said Richard Bradley, the city’s board of public service president.
The cover is located near the “Olympic Runner” statue, east of the splash pad fountains at the park where children often play barefoot. The leak was caused by a loose joint in an 8-inch steam pipe which is owned by the city, but managed under contract by Trigen-St. Louis Energy Corp., Bradley said.
At one measurement, the cover was recorded at 192 degrees Fahrenheit, city officials said.
“This is sort of a freak thing,” Bradley said. “I’ve never seen this happen before, so we’re reacting the best way we can.”
The city was alerted to the burn around noon Monday, and Trigen workers immediately cordoned off the park’s two manholes and fixed the leak, Bradley said.
City staff along with Trigen are now weighing safety changes to prevent future problems.
One option would be to replace the cast-iron covers with fiberglass which would not conduct as much heat as the metal covers, Bradley said.
Another option would be installing a barrier to prevent people walking over the covers, Bradley said.
The redesigned Kiener Plaza reopened to the public on May 19 after more than a year of construction. The $23.7 million redesign is part of the $380 million CityArchRiver project.
“This was extremely unfortunate,” Bradley said. “But now all we can do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.”