Author Topic: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town  (Read 339 times)

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Offline flowers

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End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« on: December 25, 2013, 12:11:40 PM »
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_LAST_LEAD_TOWN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-12-25-11-56-52

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HERCULANEUM, Mo. (AP) -- From the day its founder arrived here, this Mississippi River town has been tied inseparably to lead, the heavy, dull-gray metal that has been mined in southern Missouri for more than two centuries.

As home to the nation's only primary lead smelter, Herculaneum processes raw ore into metal to make car batteries, X-ray shields and many other products.

But the end of that long tradition is in sight for the small town 25 miles south of St. Louis that began smelting when this land was still owned by Spain. The company that runs the smelter, Doe Run Co., has decided to cease most operations at the end of the year, citing rising regulatory costs.

Lead has been both kind and cruel to Herculaneum, giving it an identity and ready jobs but also creating environmental and health concerns so worrisome that the federal government designated it a Superfund site and ordered tons of contaminated dirt to be dug up and removed. Many of the town's children were found to have dangerously high lead levels in their blood.

Leslie and Jack Warden won't miss the smelter. For 16 years, the couple lived less than three blocks away, literally in the shadow of the plant's 550-foot smokestack. They raised their son there. Now 29, Eric Warden still suffers from developmental delays - a common effect of lead poisoning.

"I guess living there, you became pretty complacent about the dust, the fog, the smells," Leslie Warden said. "It clung to the house. It was almost like a sticky dust."

The Wardens were leaders of the effort to convince the Environmental Protection Agency to assess Herculaneum's air quality in 2001. That testing was the impetus behind the move to clean up lead in the town known by locals as "Herky."

"We didn't do what we did to shut the plant down," Leslie Warden said. "We wanted the children of Herculaneum to be safe from lead."

Even the town's name seems to evoke a smoky past shaped by earth and fire. Herculaneum is believed to be a reference to a Roman city that was among those buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The name was also inspired by the rocky


Offline sinkspur

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 01:22:30 PM »
I trust everyone agrees this closure is a good thing.  Unlike second-hand cigarette smoke, the proof that lead is damaging to the human body is ironclad.
From  "A Shining City on a Hill"

To "A global laughingstock"

Offline Chieftain

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 02:41:35 PM »
I trust everyone agrees this closure is a good thing.  Unlike second-hand cigarette smoke, the proof that lead is damaging to the human body is ironclad.

So is beryllium, but just because it is hazardous does not mean it is not a useful substance.


Offline Oceander

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2013, 07:45:38 PM »
So is beryllium, but just because it is hazardous does not mean it is not a useful substance.



I don't think it's so much about the usefulness of lead, but rather the way in which it was being processed at this plant, which seems to have been rather lax.  I would agree with sinkspur that closing the plant as described was a good thing.

Offline SouthTexas

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2013, 09:09:46 PM »
I trust everyone agrees this closure is a good thing.  Unlike second-hand cigarette smoke, the proof that lead is damaging to the human body is ironclad.

So is arsenic, so they banned our water.   

Natural sources at the same level as the past and not that you could tell by the population in south Texas either.  Clinton EPA decided the level was too high so they cut it in half.  Now after new wells and added filtration, when I use city water to make tea, it looks like river water.


Offline truth_seeker

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2013, 09:18:46 PM »
I trust everyone agrees this closure is a good thing.  Unlike second-hand cigarette smoke, the proof that lead is damaging to the human body is ironclad.
I don't leap all that way on one description. Is it impossible to operate this facility profitably? Is it impossible to meet environmental standards? Are there no others in the industry, interested in the facility and willing to buy it? Are there other sources for lead ore, which are secure?

No argument about the dangers of lead. But if it is a vital industrial material, we need it from somewhere, and need to handle it in a "clean" manner.
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Offline SouthTexas

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Re: End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 10:41:59 PM »
As home to the nation's only primary lead smelter, Herculaneum processes raw ore into metal to make car batteries, X-ray shields and many other products.

If you like your guns you can keep your guns.  The government will keep the bullets.


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