ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Jefferson County’s long and troubled history of lead smelting may soon enter a new chapter. The Missouri legislature is completing work on a bill to restart lead processing at the Doe Run lead plant in Herculaneum.
Republican Senator Gary Romine of Farmington, Mo., has sponsored a bill to establish a statewide lead industry task force that would supervise cleanup of old sites and encourage new, cleaner lead smelting methods.
“The old smelting process was rather dirty, a lot of contamination,” Romine says. “But there’s new technology today that makes it more efficient and more environmentally safe.”
Romine says that the process uses more of a chemical process instead of heat which emits smoke emissions. He says that this would be the new process and it can reduce the amount of gasses released.
“There’s no other lead processing in the United States. We’re shipping all of our oil that’s fine now across the ocean and bringing it back as a different product,” Romine says. “I think that Missouri particularly, and the United States as a whole, needs to have their own smeltering or processing plant.”
He adds that it’s strategically unsound for the United States to no longer do any lead smelting. His bill would create a lead policy task force to get the Doe Run plant back up and running. The new technology has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting a final vote.
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