The Site is mainly located in Iron County with smaller portions existing within Crawford and Washington Counties in the southeastern region of Missouri. It is part of what is commonly known as the New Lead Belt – or Viburnum Trend – which began producing lead around 1960 and continues production to this day.
The Doe Run Resources Corporation – Viburnum Division (formerly St. Joe Minerals Corp – Viburnum) is located in, and near, the city of Viburnum, Missouri. The Viburnum Division includes four mines where ore was brought to the surface: Viburnum Mine 27 in Crawford County, Viburnum Mine 29 in Washington County, Viburnum Mine 28 in Iron County, and Casteel Mine in Iron County.
The mined ore was previously transported over haul roads to the Viburnum Central Mill which was located at Viburnum Mine 28. Only Viburnum Mine 29 and the Casteel Mine are currently in operation. Viburnum Mine 27 was closed in 1983; Viburnum Mine 28 was closed in 2004. Ore from the from the Viburnum Mine 29 is brought to the Viburnum Central Mill Complex where it is crushed and then hauled over public roadways, primarily to Buick Mill for concentrating. The lead ore from the Casteel Mine is also hauled over public roadways to other mine ore concentrators within the Viburnum Trend Mining District for processing. In addition to the mines and mills, there are two large tailings piles that were created from processing of ore at the Viburnum Central Mill Complex.
During construction development and early operation of these mines, it was not uncommon for lead contaminated materials such as tailings and/or poor rock to be used for construction materials in the building of the city of Viburnum, which was built by the St. Joe Minerals Corporation to support mining operations.
Poor rock is a term used to describe low grade ore that is removed during mine development but not purposely mined or concentrated. Poor rock commonly contains higher than one percent lead or 10,000 parts per million (ppm). For reference, EPA’s action level for lead in residential soil is 400 ppm. The Central Mill in Viburnum was also a likely source of air pollution and lead fallout from hauling, crushing, and processing of ore and/or concentrate, particularly prior to requirements to reduce air emissions.
EPA identified Doe Run Resources Corporation, or Doe Run, as the party potentially responsible for the lead contamination found at this site. Beginning in 2005, EPA and Doe Run entered into an agreement for Doe Run to begin cleaning up residential properties whose yards had been contaminated with lead at the Site.
A Preliminary Assessment conducted by Doe Run and EPA in 2006, determined that over 200 residential properties were eligible for cleanup. A time-critical removal action was completed in 2008 for residential properties at the Site determined to have sensitive residents (i.e., children, pregnant women, etc.) and/or higher concentrations of lead in soil (i.e., greater 1,200 ppm). EPA and Doe Run are currently in the process of beginning cleanup of the remainder of the residential properties through a non-time-critical removal action. These properties were found to have less than 1,200 ppm lead in soil and were without sensitive residents.
As a result of mining-related activities that have occurred in and around the city of Viburnum, lead and lead compounds have been released into the environment in quantities sufficient to present an imminent and substantial danger to public heal and welfare. The contaminant of concern at the site is lead. Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults and can develop lifelong disabilities and behavior problems from lead exposure. Additional information about lead contamination can be found at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts13.pdf