Doe Run Settles with EPA: Lead Company to Close Herculaneum Smelter, Spend Millions

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Photo: Jennifer Silverberg
Doe Run smelter in Herculaneum.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that St. Louis-based Doe Run -- North America's largest lead producer -- has agreed to spend approximately $65 million to correct violations of environmental laws at ten of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in Missouri. The settlement also requires the company to pay a $7 million civil penalty.

Most important, for residents near St. Louis, is the news today that Doe Run plans to close its Herculaneum smelter in Jefferson County by the end of 2013 instead of trying to bring the facility into compliance with environmental regulations.

Daily RFT
has a phone call out to Doe Run to try to determine how many workers could face termination when the smelter closes. In 2001 Riverfront Times published an in-depth look at the the impact of lead pollution on Herculaneum. Just last year the EPA found that more than a third of Herculaneum properties it tested had dangerously high levels of lead.

Half of the $7 million civil penalty in today's settlement will be paid to the United States. Doe Run will then pay $1.5 million payment to the state of Missouri, with an additional $1 million plus interest to be paid to the state each year for the next two years.

The settlement also requires Doe Run to establish financial assurance trust funds, at an estimated cost of $28 million to $33 million, for the cleanup of Herculaneum and the following active or former mining and milling facilities: Brushy Creek, Buick, Fletcher, Sweetwater, Viburnum and West Fork. This commitment ensures that financing will be available to fund the cleanup of the smelter property and the six mining and milling sites whenever they are eventually closed. Doe Run will also take steps to finalize and come into compliance with more stringent Clean Water Act permits at 10 of its facilities, including Herculaneum, Glover, Buick Mill, Brushy Creek, Fletcher, Sweetwater, Viburnum, West Fork, Mine #35 (Casteel), and Buick Resource Recycling, and will spend an estimated $5.8 million on stream mitigation activities along 8.5 miles of Bee Fork Creek, an impaired waterway near Doe Run's Fletcher mine and mill facility.

The company will also spend $2 million on community-based mitigation projects to reduce pollution from other sources in southeastern Missouri. At least $1.1 million of this amount will be spent on diesel engine retrofits, school science lab clean outs, school energy efficiency projects and installations of heat pumps. Other projects, such as the purchase of sulfur dioxide allowances, wastewater infrastructure projects for the city of Herculaneum, or the development and improvement of environmental management systems at Doe Run's facilities may also be included.

Instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act, Doe Run has made a business decision to shut down its lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., by Dec. 31, 2013. The company will also provide an initial $8.14 million in financial assurance to guarantee cleanup work at the Herculaneum facility. The closing of the Herculaneum smelter is expected to result in significant benefits to public health and the environment by annually reducing air emissions of at least 101,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 42,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 30 tons of lead, 23 tons of particulate matter, 22 tons of carbon monoxide, 13.5 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 2.5 tons of volatile organic chemicals. These reductions will result in significant health and environmental benefits to the Herculaneum and St. Louis areas, which are currently exceeding federal air standards for lead, ozone and particulate matter.

"For more than a century, families in Missouri's lead districts have endured one of the most harmful forms of air and water pollution," EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. "Lead's toll on their lives and health has been great, which is why the outcome of this enforcement action is so important. Four decades after taking the first steps to remove lead from gasoline, EPA has reached this settlement to keep significant amounts of lead from polluting Missouri's air, land and water. This is a historic milestone, and it could not have happened without the effective, energetic cooperation of Missouri's Governor, Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources."

In addition to the consent decree, EPA is issuing for public comment a new administrative order that requires Doe Run to sample residential properties within 1.5 miles of the Herculaneum smelter, and clean up all residential properties with lead soil concentrations of 400 parts per million or higher within that zone. The order requires Doe Run to conduct a final round of soil sampling and residential property cleanups in Herculaneum after the smelter is shut down.

EPA is also issuing for public comment a modified May 2007 administrative order addressing issues related to the transportation of lead-bearing materials between Doe Run facilities. The modified order requires Doe Run to spend an estimated $3.2 million to improve the washing and inspection of its trucks, conduct additional sampling of soil from residential properties along the haul routes, provide independent auditing of its washing and inspection activities, and conduct a study to assess and improve its transportation and handling operations.

The civil judicial consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by a court before it becomes final. Each of the two administrative orders is subject to similar but separate 30-day public comment periods before they become final.

Here is how Doe Run specifically plans to remedy its ten facilities in southeast Missouri:

Herculaneum Smelter, 881 Main Street, Herculaneum, Mo. - Voluntary shutdown of acid plant and sinter machine, and end of shipments of lead concentrate to the facility by December 31, 2013; cease operation of blast furnace by April 30, 2014; after smelter is shut down, cleanup smelter property to health-based levels to allow for appropriate future use of property; provide $8.1 million financial assurance trust fund to ensure cleanup is completed; while the smelter is still operating through 2013, limit production of refined lead to 130,000 tons per year, and observe specific limits on sinter production, blast furnace sinter consumption, sulfur dioxide emissions and lead emissions to air; install and operate a second lime slurry tank at its wastewater treatment plant; install system to recycle truck wash water; update the Spill Prevention Control Countermeasures plan, and develop and implement an appropriate training program; improve efforts to reduce track-out of lead-bearing materials and hazardous waste from the facility; perform extensive sampling and analysis of surface water, and develop plans to manage surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Buick Mine/Mill, Highway KK, Boss, Mo. - Enclose lead concentrate handling and loading areas under negative pressure to reduce lead emissions to air; improve efforts to reduce track-out of lead-bearing materials and hazardous waste from the facility; develop and implement a plan to address storage and cleanups of used oil; perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; install and operate pressure drop monitor on underground concrete batch plant #1; update the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures plan, and develop and implement an appropriate training program; prepare standard operating procedures for making and documenting hazardous waste determinations; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Buick Resource Recycling, Highway KK, Boss, Mo. - Demonstrate and ensure compliance with all special conditions of its hazardous waste permit; install and operate an additional sand vertical gravity filter at the facility's wastewater treatment plant; install equipment for recycling of non-contact cooling water in the battery desulfurization and crystallization areas; install return pumps to allow the reuse of blast furnace cooling water; evaluate the use of a filter to capture metals from dross and refinery granulation wastewater, and if feasible, install the filter; perform extensive sampling and analysis of surface water, and develop plans to manage surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Brushy Creek Mine/Mill, Highway KK, Boss, Mo. - Enclose lead concentrate handling and loading areas under negative pressure to reduce lead emissions to air; perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Fletcher Mine/Mill, Highway TT, Centerville, Mo. - Perform stream mitigation activities along 8.5 miles of Bee Fork Creek to address negative impacts of mining and milling operations; enclose lead concentrate handling and loading areas under negative pressure to reduce lead emissions to air; perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Glover Facility, Highway 49 North, Annapolis, Mo. - Prepare report evaluating the effectiveness of reagents used at its wastewater treatment plant and implement any recommended changes; evaluate use of sodium sulfide to reduce thallium in the wastewater treatment system and implement any recommended changes; perform extensive sampling and analysis of surface water, and develop plans to manage surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Sweetwater Mine/Mill, Ellington, Mo. - Enclose lead concentrate handling and loading areas under negative pressure to reduce lead emissions to air; perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Viburnum Mine #35 (Casteel), Highway 32, Bixby, Mo. - Perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Viburnum Mine/Mill, Viburnum, Mo. - Perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

West Fork Mine/Mill, Highway KK, Bunker, Mo. - Remove and replace substrate in the north biocell of the wastewater treatment plant and eliminate the discharge from the domestic wastewater treatment unit; perform extensive sampling and analysis of underground and surface water, and develop plans to manage underground and surface water to reduce pollution in wastewater; prepare and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) within six months; agree to an expedited process for resolving issues with the State of Missouri over National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

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