Jefferson Co. lead smelter plant closing after nearly 32 years in service

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on December 26, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 27 at 7:08 AM

 (KMOV) -- A local lead smelter plant will cease operations in five days, costing the city of Herculaneum jobs and lost tax revenue.

The doe run company decided it would be too expensive to install upgrades to meet new EPA standards so in an agreement with the EPA, will shut down the lead smelter by the last day of the year.

The plant has operated there since 1892.

Jim Kasten, a fourth-generation Herculaneum resident said the end of the sounds and smells of the plant will be weird but, as city administrator, he’s concerned the laid off workers won’t be spending money within the city.

Officials say 145 full-time Doe Run employees are losing their jobs and so are 73 contract workers. 75 workers are staying on through the end of next year to make lead alloys for specialty customers.

Kasten also believes the city will lose a big chunk of money from its largest bill payer for water and gas service.

“In all reality, all of us will have to pay the difference; the rates will have to go up somewhat,” said Kasten.

Through the years, the company has been forced to remove contaminated soil caused by pollution from the plant and ten years ago, bought out 160 homes around the smelter. Taxes paid for city services and to educate children. The loss of property taxes will hit the city by $50,000 to $60,000 a year and the Dunklin R-5 School District will lose $500,000 a year.

“That’s enough to pay for 10 teachers jobs. If that loss were to happen all of a sudden, that would be disastrous for the school,” said Kasten.

The school district is hoping to absorb the loss which will happen gradually over the next three years.

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