Mining Company and EPA Agree to Cleanup Residential Properties

Mining company Doe Run Resources and EPA submitted a Consent Decree to a federal court in Missouri that requires Doe Run to address lead contamination at over 4,000 residential properties in St. Francois County, Missouri.  The company will test the soils and remediate as needed to ensure the properties meet the cleanup standard of 400 parts per million (ppm) lead.

Settlement under the Superfund Program
The settlement, under EPA’s Superfund program, is based on the law that requires EPA and responsible parties to address historical waste disposal sites.  In this case, the site is the Big River Mine Tailings Site in Missouri, which consists of approximately 110 square miles affected by wastes from mining that occurred from the 1740s until 1972.  Doe Run is the successor to St. Joseph Lead Company, which owned or operated mine waste areas in the site.

Studies identified these residential properties as possibly affected by historical waste practices, and addressing this contamination is just one part of the process for cleaning up the entire site.

Mixed Funding Settlement
The settlement is estimated to cost approximately $80 million.  Doe Run will implement the cleanup but can seek reimbursement from EPA for 40% of the costs, with EPA’s share capped at $31.54 million.

Agreement Must Be Approved by the Court
As with all Superfund consent decrees, the federal court must approve it, and that approval can only come after the public has had at least 30 days to comment on the proposed settlement.

For EPA’s summary of the agreement, go to https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/case-summary-big-river-superfund-site-80-million-settlement-lead-contamination-cleanup

***On April 19th, I will present to the Houston Chapter of The Forensics Expert Witness Association “Easy Lessons: What We Can Learn From Others’ Mistakes.

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