The Most Hazardous Contaminated Places and Where They Are

Source: Kbh3rd / Wikimedia Commons

3. Washington County Lead District – Old Mines
> Hazard Ranking System score: 76.8
> Location: Old Mines, Missouri
> Listing Date 3/19/2008

Washington County Lead District – Old Mines is about 65 miles south of St. Louis and is part of the Old Lead Belt, where lead has been mined for hundreds of years. Eighty percent of America’s lead used to come from this region. Groundwater, soil, surface water, and sediment have been tainted by arsenic, barium, cadmium, and lead. Over time, residences have been built near the site, and there is concern drinking water and soil have been contaminated. The EPA began to clean lead-tainted soil at a school, and the agency had to provide water filtration devices for homes where the presence of lead in water exceeded the unhealthy levels. The EPA is looking to provide an alternate source of drinking water for affected residents.

Source: Lurvina / Wikimedia Commons

2. Washington County Lead District – Richwoods
> Hazard Ranking System score: 76.8
> Location: Richwoods, Missouri
> Listing Date 3/19/2008

Washington County Lead District – Richwoods Old Mines, is about 57 miles south of St. Louis. The 45-square-mile area is another part of the region’s Old Lead Belt. It also shares the legacy of tainted groundwater, soil, surface water, and sediment by arsenic, barium, cadmium, and lead. Residences have been built over mine waste, and some residents, unaware of the health implications, have even used the waste for gravel driveways. There is concern that drinking water and soil have been contaminated. The EPA has provided water filtration devices for homes where the presence of lead in the water exceeds the healthy levels. According to the EPA, one in seven drinking water supply wells qualify for a water filtration system.

Source: Paul Sableman from St. Louis, MO / Wikimedia Commons

1. Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp.
> Hazard Ranking System score: 84.9
> Location: Desloge, Missouri
> Listing Date 10/14/1992

Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp., 62 miles southwest of St. Louis, is the third of three Superfund sites on the list located in the Old Lead Belt in Missouri. The site includes eight big sections of mine waste, about 110 square miles. In 1977, as a result of torrential rains, about 50,000 cubic yards of sludge containing mining waste to drifted into the Big River. Besides lead, other minerals such as cadmium and zinc were present. Because of raised lead levels, people were advised not to eat fish caught downstream from the Big River. The eight areas of mine waste are being stabilized to prevent sloughing. The cleanup process began in 1995.