The Herculaneum smelter was in continuous operation for over 130 years, from 1882 to 2013. The smelter had a production capacity of 250,000 tons of refined lead per year. Hazardous substances were frequently emitted in the form of exhaust. Some of the constituents of this exhaust, including lead and zinc were deposited in the surrounding areas.The smelter was the largest of its kind in the United States. Prior to the formation of the Doe Run Company, the plant had been owned and operated by the St. Joseph Lead Co. The property currently consists of the approx. 35 acre smelter plant and an approx. 24 acre slag storage area. Slag is defined as the vitreous mass left as a residue by the smelting of metallic ore and is considered a waste product. In the past, this material has been used locally as fill for housing construction and road beds. The smelter is currently undergoing closure and is being re-developed as a port on the Mississippi River.
Human health concerns have dominated regulatory activities in Herculaneum. Estimated aerial lead deposition rates ranged from 3.8 ppm/month to 4.9 ppm/month within a ¾ mile radius of the smelter. Over half the children under six years of age tested within one half mile of the smelter had elevated blood Pb in the late 90s and early 2000s. Lead concentrate spilled from trucks during transport from the Viburnum Trend to the smelter through city streets was believed to cause extremely high contaminant levels up to hundreds of thousands of ppm near city streets.
The Trustees lodged a consent decree on February 11, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. This consent decree, if approved, will settle the Trustees’ NRDAR claims