Superfund | St. Louis Public Radio

Superfund

Remnants of a former mining operation near Fredericktown at the Madison County Mines Superfund site in May 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Mining Inc. plans to create up to 700 jobs by reopening a mine at a Superfund site in Fredericktown, Missouri. 

The company wants to extract cobalt from the Madison Mine, which it purchased last year. The mine has been inactive since the 1960s and is a part of the Madison County Mines Superfund site, an area contaminated by historic lead mining. 

Environmental Operations, a Missouri Mining subsidiary, plans to begin cleaning up the site this winter. Missouri Cobalt, another Missouri Mining subsidiary, could hire as many as 400 temporary workers and 250 permanent workers to rebuild and operate the mine. 

The West Lake Landfill, seen from St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to conduct additional tests for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill, which would delay its excavation of the Superfund site.

When the EPA region that oversees Missouri released its final plan last September to remove 70% of the radioactivity at the site, officials said the cleanup would begin after they spent 18 months planning how to remove the World War II-era waste.

EPA officials announced this week that parties responsible for the landfill signed an agreement with the agency to design the excavation plan. Because of the additional testing, the cleanup won’t begin for two and a half years, EPA spokesperson Ben Washburn said.

The West Lake Landfill, in the distance, sits adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bridgeton Landfill LLC, owner of the West Lake Landfill, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt to help pay for the cost of cleaning up radioactive waste at the federal Superfund site.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a $205 million remediation plan for the West Lake Landfill last month. The strategy involves excavating about 70 percent of the site’s radioactivity and capping the rest. The costs of cleaning up Superfund sites fall on parties responsible for the contamination. For the West Lake Landfill, that includes Republic Services’ subsidiary Bridgeton Landfill, Rock Road Industries, the Cotter Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The suit, filed in federal court in St. Louis, seeks a jury trial to compel Mallinckrodt to pay the costs of cleaning up the West Lake Landfill.

The West Lake Landfill, in the distance, sits adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill, right.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:10 p.m. Sept. 28 — The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill Superfund site.

The chosen solution will remove about 70 percent of the site’s radioactivity and dispose of the waste at an out-of-state facility. The $205 million plan is similar, though less expensive, to what officials proposed in February.

Bonne Terre resident Steven Anderson sits in a kayak in the Big River next to a beach covered in legacy mine waste.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

About 55 miles southwest of St. Louis, Steven Anderson — who owns an outfitter called Cherokee Landing in Bonne Terre — routinely takes his customers to St. Francois State Park.

To a trained observer like Anderson, the beach where he launches his kayak trips offers clear signs of lead contamination. Before taking off recently, he scooped up a handful of gravel.

“See these gray and black specks?” he said, pointing at the tiny dark rocks in his hand. “There’s a lot of heavy tailings on this beach.”

The tailings are discarded mine waste from the lead mining that long took place in St. Francois County. The Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to clean up the waste along the Big River, which runs through the heart of Missouri's Old Lead Belt.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the former site of a refrigerator-valve manufacturing facility in Washington, Missouri, to its National Priorities List.

Superfund sites that are added to the National Priorities List are eligible for federal funding for cleanup. The former site of the Sporlan Valve Plant, operational from 1939 until 1968, used industrial chemical solvents to make refrigerator parts.

Harmful contaminants such as benzene and trichloroethylene — or TCE — remained in the soil and groundwater over several decades. Exposure to such chemicals can cause cancer and damage to multiple organs.

A home in St. Francois County undergoing remediation for lead contamination
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The number of homes contaminated by Missouri’s historic lead mining continues to grow as Environmental Protection Agency officials test more residential yards in St. Francois County.

EPA officials are meeting with communities this week to expand its soil sampling efforts and receive feedback on its plan to clean up the Big River Mine Tailings Superfund site. Representatives of the federal agency had their first meeting with residents on Monday in Bismarck, about 80 miles south of St. Louis. Officials found high levels of lead, or concentrations above 400 parts per million, in 96 out of the 122 residential yards they tested in Bismarck. They began testing in the city in 2014.

A map that indicates the location of the Old American Zinc Plant Superfund site in Fairmont City, Ill.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

The Environmental Protection Agency plans this month to start removing toxic waste from 50 residential yards near a Metro East Superfund site.

The Old American Zinc Plant, which discontinued operations in 1967, contaminated hundreds of properties with high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc and other heavy metals that are known to cause cancer and a variety of diseases. The site is located in Fairmont City, next to Cahokia Mounds.

Lead blocks produced by the Doe Run Company.
The Doe Run Company

In a settlement announced Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Missouri ordered metal and mining company Doe Run Resources Corporation to clean up lead contamination in more than 4,000 residential properties in St. Francois County.

The work is estimated to cost a total of $111 million. Of that, the Environmental Protection Agency will contribute about $31 million. The company will remove lead contamination in the Big River Mine Tailings Superfund Site, an area added to the EPA's National Priorities List in 1992. It's part of Missouri's "Old Lead Belt," one of the largest lead mining districts in the world.

Tree plantings on a former lead mining site in Fredericktown, Missouri, located about 90 miles south of St. Louis.
Amy Poos | Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources are restoring a portion of Missouri's Old Lead Belt back into a forest. 

It's the first effort that federal and state officials have made to restore a part of the Madison County Mines Superfund Site, part of the Southeast Missouri Lead District. In the 19th century, lead mining heavily contaminated the area, which was listed on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List in 2003.

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
File photo | Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to conduct further testing for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton. 

Albert Kelly, senior adviser to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the head of the agency's Superfund Task Force, made the announcement at a forum late Thursday, where members of the community voiced concerns about the landfill. Kelly said he expects the sampling to occur within the next 90 days in the western part of the site, a portion that agency officials often refer to as "Operating Unit 2."

The announcement came as good news to area residents, who have long worried that that contamination has damaged their health.

Southeast Missouri State University graduate student Kathy Hixson prepares to draw blood from a male bluebird at the Madison County Mines Superfund Site in Fredericktown, Missouri
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

In Fredericktown, Missouri, three women walked towards what looked like a Martian landscape.

The location of the Sauget Area 1 Superfund site.
MAPBOX, OPENSTREETMAP

Four chemical companies could have to pay $14.8 million to clean up a federal Superfund site in Sauget.

The settlement, which needs court approval, would address groundwater contamination, cap some of the waste and install a well monitoring system. 

Industrial waste has been dumped in six sites within the Sauget Area 1 Superfund from the 1930s until the 1980s. The Environmental Protection Agency has been investigating the site since the early 1980s.

At an EPA-hosted community meeting about the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in mid-2016, Bridgeton Councilwoman Linda Eaker asks for a show of hands regarding support for full excavation of radioactive waste.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and local officials continued to press the Environmental Protection Agency for full removal of radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton at a meeting on Monday night. 

By December, the federal agency must decide between four possible remedies for handling the radioactive contamination. The EPA could take no action, cap the waste in place, partial remove it or completely do so.

The location of the Ellisville Superfund site. The Callahan Subsite is a section of the Ellisville site as a whole.
Screen capture | EPA.gov

The Environmental Protection Agency has again attempted to assure the city of Wildwood that a former toxic dumping site is now safe. However, local officials are still not convinced. 

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Transferring authority for the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not speed up removal of radioactive waste from the site, a corps official told federal lawmakers recently.

Sphalerite, or zinc ore, from the Royal Cornwall Museum Collection.
University of Exeter

Updated on April 7, 2016 at 10:45 a.m. with comments from the EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that further actions are required at the Old American Zinc Plant in Fairmont City, as plans for clean-up are in the works.  

May 2015 graduates. Front row from left to right: Sean Marks, Cory Chandler, Prince Farris-Settles, Alvin Love, Michael Harris (red shirt). Back row from left to right: Matt Hermeyer (white shirt), Paul Oryem, Sean Kempf, Joel Smith, Stacey Robinson.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding St. Louis Community College just over $190 thousand to continue its environmental job training program.

This is the fifth time that the college has received an EPA grant since 2000.

The Environmental Remediation Job Training program is a collaboration between St. Louis Community College and Saint Louis University. The community college recruits and selects the participants and helps connect graduates with potential employers; SLU provides the classroom facilities and conducts the training.

Carter Carburetor cleanup behind schedule, but moving ahead

Mar 12, 2015
This photo of the former Carter Carburetor plant was taken in Aug. 2011, prior to the start of the cleanup.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3/13/15 after the meeting:

Demolition of the old Carter Carburetor plant on North Grand Avenue is expected to begin this summer.

That's according to HRP Associates, the main contractor for ACF Industries, the company responsible for much of the cleanup.

HRP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency described the projected remediation schedule at a public meeting Thursday night at the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club.

Lois Gibbs holds her daughter Missy stands outside her Love Canal home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1978.
Courtesy of Lois Gibbs

Environmental activist Lois Gibbs will be in St. Louis this weekend for a “teach-in” to address problems at the adjoining Bridgeton and West Lake landfills, located in Bridgeton a few miles from Lambert Airport.

Republic Services

Updated on 2/23/14 to correct the date of the 2013 CO measurements, and on 2/21/14 to add a data table from MDNR and more characterization of the recent CO measurements.

New monitoring data from the Bridgeton Landfill suggest that an underground fire has not spread toward radioactive waste to the north.

Toxic Site In Metro East Enters New Phase Of Cleanup

Oct 30, 2013
(via US Environmental Protection Agency)

The US Environmental Protection Agency held a community meeting in Hartford, Illinois, on Wednesday, to inform residents about the ongoing cleanup of the former Chemetco copper smelter.

This is the second of three open houses being held this year. Another will be held in December.

(via Flickr/xpda)

The city of Joplin, Mo. is getting an additional boost in an effort to clean up soil contaminated by lead and cadmium that was blown around by the fatal EF-5 tornado in May 2011.

Morning headlines - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jul 11, 2012
(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

EPA, Kellwood reach settlement over contamination

St. Louis-based Kellwood Company has agreed to a plan to clean up the site of former metal fabrication plant in Franklin County.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The federal Environmental Protection Agency will provide the city of Joplin, Mo. with $500,000 to help test and clean up lead-contaminated soils that were exposed by the May 22 tornado that devastated the city.

The money from the Superfund program will allow the city to hire one full-time and one part-time person to coordinate a soil testing and remediation plan. The funds will also pay for a vehicle, equipment, supplies and travel expenses.

Carter Carburetor site to get new security fencing

Nov 15, 2011
(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Environmental Protection Agency is following through on its commitment to fence off the former Carter Carburetor manufacturing plant in north St. Louis.

The 10-acre property is contaminated with asbestos, PCBs, and other industrial pollutants.

(Photo courtesy of Illinois EPA)

Demolition of the former Chemetco copper smelter took another step forward on Tuesday. The demolition is the start of a long clean-up process for the hazardous Metro East eyesore.

The Illinois EPA is overseeing the dismantling of the smelter buildings, which began last year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added the Washington County Lead District-Furnace Creek site in Washington County, Missouri, to the federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).

The NPL is a list of the nation's hazardous waste sites with the highest priority for cleanup.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 31, 2011 - WASHINGTON -- They don't have the same political affiliation and they disagree on many national issues, but U.S. Reps. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, and John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, have become personal friends as well as allies on some key local issues.

The affable and soft-spoken Costello didn't sit next to his more outspoken Collinsville colleague at last week's State of the Union speech, but that's mainly because everyone knows they are friends and each of them decided to sit with an opposite-party congressman from another state to show their bipartisan stripes.