Herculaneum smelter is among 42 disease clusters, group says

An environmental group will tell a Senate panel today that it has identified 42 suspected clusters of cancer, birth defects and other illnesses in 13 states. The Natural Resources Defense Council, working with the National Disease Clusters Alliance, wants to step up the federal response to investigating suspected clusters. The 42 clusters — either confirmed or under active investigation — are in Missouri, Texas, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee and Arkansas. The site in Missouri is in Herculaneum. The reports says that in 2007, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services identified a cluster of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) around a lead smelter. Doe Run, the company that owned the smelter, purchased 160 homes. The state agency found that the smelter also had produced pollutants such as lead, zinc, copper, chromium and cadmium. In addition, the slag from the smelter is dumped in a pile near the Missouri River. Doe Run agreed to pay $65 million to correct violations of environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining and processing facilities in southeastern Missouri, the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in October. In addition, the company said it would end operations at the smelter, the only primary lead smelter in the United States, by Dec. 31, 2013. The company said at the time that it wanted to build a plant using a more environmentally friendly lead-producing technology and that the new plant might be built in Herculaneum, across the street from the current smelter. Other places being considered are Ironton and a location outside the United States. ((29 MAR 2011))



The Natural Resources Defense Council

National Disease Clusters Alliance

Environmental Protection Agency




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