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Tests Show Recontamination of Soils in Herculaneum, Mo., from Doe Run Resources Corporation Lead Smelting Operation

Release Date: 10/26/2009
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394,

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., October 26, 2009) - EPA Region 7 is considering a range of enforcement actions against the Doe Run Resources Corporation, now that recent tests have shown more than one-third of a group of properties situated within a mile of the company's lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., contain lead at levels exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm), EPA's threshold for removing and replacing such soils.

Of 372 properties sampled, 129 had at least one area exceeding the 400 ppm action level for lead. A total of 104 of those 129 "action level" properties have already undergone soil remediation within the past nine years, under work previously ordered by EPA.

"While Doe Run has taken some steps in recent years to reduce lead emissions, those efforts clearly fall short of what was necessary," said William Rice, acting regional administrator. "The recontamination we are seeing in Herculaneum is unacceptable. EPA intends to work with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to correct this problem by requiring Doe Run to implement a comprehensive, permanent solution to address this persistent problem."

Doe Run's facility at 881 Main Street in Herculaneum has been in operation for more than a century and is the largest smelter of its kind in the United States. EPA's enforcement-related involvement with the facility began three decades ago, over concerns with air emissions, children's elevated blood lead levels, elevated lead levels in residential yard soils, and home interior dust in Herculaneum.

Both EPA and MDNR have taken a number of enforcement actions against Doe Run over the years, including EPA's July 2009 unilateral administrative order, directing the company to sample and test gravel driveways and surface yard soils from all homes within one mile of the smelter.

Those tests, completed by a contractor hired by Doe Run, were completed last month, after which the company sent confidential letters to property owners and residents, informing them only of the test results from their respective properties. EPA received a full report of the sampling activity on October 8, 2009. A redacted copy of that report is available at

"Together with our state partners, EPA intends to apply science and the law so that the residents of Herculaneum, particularly young children, do not remain vulnerable to the known health risks associated with toxic lead exposures," Rice said.

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