Doe Run, Missouri DNR to Address Lead Contamination

Soils at St. Joe State Park are extensively contaminated with toxic lead and lead compounds from mining wastes that accumulated over several decades.

The Doe Run Resources Corporation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR) Division of State Parks have agreed to conduct a removal action to address lead contamination at St. Joe State Park, including off-road vehicle (ORV) riding areas and a former lead milling location now preserved as a museum, as well as an adjacent section of the Shaw Branch floodplain in St. Francois County.

Terms of EPA’s agreement with Doe Run and MDNR are outlined in an administrative settlement agreement and order on consent, filed in Kansas City, Kan. Under the order, within 60 days Doe Run and MDNR must submit a draft work plan to EPA, outlining intended steps to complete the removal action.

The order focuses on a 1,240-acre portion of the 8,238-acre St. Joe State Park, Missouri’s third-largest state park, located near the city of Park Hills. The site is known to EPA as the Federal Tailings Pile Superfund Site, a sub-site of Big River Mine Tailings Superfund Site, which is on the agency’s National Priorities List (NPL) for cleanup of hazardous lead.

The park portion of the site is owned by the state of Missouri, which received it as part of an 8,238-acre gift from the St. Joe Minerals Corporation in 1976. St. Joe Minerals Corporation, which changed its name to Doe Run Resources Corporation in 1994, conducted lead mining and milling operations in the vicinity from approximately 1923 to 1972.

St. Joe State Park is used for a variety of recreational activities, including off-road vehicle riding, camping, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and fishing. However, soils at the site are extensively contaminated with toxic lead and lead compounds from mining wastes that accumulated over several decades. Soil samples collected during recent inspections of the site have been found to contain up to 20,000 parts per million of lead.

Additionally, lead has been found at elevated levels in sediment, surface water, and aquatic life adjacent to the site in the Shaw Branch of Flat River, a tributary of Big River. Actions to address lead contamination in the Shaw Branch floodplain included in EPA’s order:

  • All ORV trails that are contaminated with 600 mg/kg or more of lead must be covered with a minimum of 12 inches of clean soil, rock, or a mixture of both.
  • Steep slopes will be regraded and stabilized with rock to prevent erosion. Vegetation will be established or augmented to reduce exposure to the public and minimize erosion.
  • Sediment and surface water will be addressed by removing creekside lead tailings deposits, constructing stormwater retention structures to help reduce the movement of sediment, regrading to stabilize steep slopes, and improving drainage channels that cross the site.
  • Post-removal controls, including administrative controls to prevent public access to vegetated areas, and ongoing monitoring to ensure the remedy remains protective, must be implemented.

“This removal action will make one of Missouri’s greatest state parks, particularly its popular off-road riding trails, a safer place for hundreds of thousands of visitors to enjoy each year,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “Remedial work in the park and the adjacent Shaw Branch floodplain will also significantly reduce the amount of harmful lead released into the environment by the movement of wind and water.”

EPA estimates that the removal action will cost about $7 million and take approximately 18 months to complete, once it begins.

Nearly all of the cleanup costs will be covered by funds from a special account that was established in 2009 as part of the $1.79 billion bankruptcy settlement involving the American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO). A $7.7 million special account was specifically set aside for cleanup of the Federal Tailings Pile Superfund Site, which includes St. Joe State Park.

As a result of the ASARCO settlement, the largest environmental bankruptcy case in U.S. history, special accounts were established to pay for past and future clean-up costs incurred by federal and state agencies at more than 80 Superfund sites contaminated by mining operations in Missouri and 18 other states.

Source: U.S. EPA