The Trials of Herculaneum
Residents of the town of Herculaneum, Mo., are unhappy about an emergency plan to relocate members of at least 92 households while their homes and properties are being stripped of lead contamination. The source of the lead is a 110-year-old smelter owned by the Doe Run Company. Last year, the company agreed to a cleanup mandated by the U.S. EPA and the state Department of Natural Resources, but residents fear it will not protect their health in the long term because the company plans to keep the smelter in operation. They are calling for a permanent buyout of their properties. Herculaneum’s streets, soil, homes, and schools have been shown to contain dangerous levels of lead, which can cause diminished intelligence as well as behavioral and developmental problems in children.