"EPA Plan for Missouri Lead Waste Worries Residents"

"LEADWOOD, Mo. -- For generations, people in Leadwood have lived near huge piles of dangerous, lead-contaminated mining waste. Now the EPA has decided the answer to the problem is to pile on more lead-tainted earth.

To many folks, that makes no sense at all.

'They're going to bring in more dirt that's poisoned and bring it down here, and we don't want it,' said Dan Rohrbach, 55, who lives near one of the piles in this town of 1,200 people. 'Why are we being treated like second-class citizens?'

Under the plan, which is still being aired in public hearings and has no fixed starting date, 300,000 tons of lead-laced soil from neighboring Jefferson County will be trucked in and spread over some of Leadwood's tailings, the sandy material left over from a century of mining.

The Environmental Protection Agency, struggling with the long-standing problem of lead contamination in the slice of southeastern Missouri known as the Old Lead Belt, said that will accomplish two things: remove lead contamination from Jefferson County, and help grass grow over the tailings in Leadwood. That will fix the waste in place and keep the lead from blowing around or from washing into streams when it rains."

Jim Salter reports for the Associated Press July 18, 2009.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009