Washington County Lead District - Furnace Creek, Old Mines, Potosi and Richwoods National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund Sites, Washington County, Missouri - Fact Sheet, March 2019
Lead Testing and Cleanup Opportunity
Residential Soils and Private Drinking Water Wells
Remedial Actions at the Four NPL Sites
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 is remediating (cleaning up) lead-contaminated soil in residential yards within the Washington County Lead District (WCLD) National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund Sites, whose boundaries cover the entire county (see map at right). Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed; it is the main contaminant of concern. Lead is classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and is a cumulative toxicant. Lead exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children 7 years old and younger, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid exposure to lead to protect their children. (See additional information below.)
EPA requests that residential property owners grant access to EPA, or EPA’s field support contractor (Tetra Tech), to test residential properties for lead contamination. If your property has been tested and is eligible for remediation (400 parts per million lead or higher), EPA is also seeking access for A&M Engineering, EPA’s new remediation contractor, to perform cleanup. Residential properties also include child high-use areas (childcare facilities, parks and playgrounds). If your property or private well has not been tested or remediated, this is your opportunity. Sampling and remediation is performed at no cost to property owners. Please see EPA contacts below.
BACKGROUND AND SITE UPDATE
The WCLD sites are part of the Old Lead Belt in southeastern Missouri, which was one of the world’s largest lead mining districts, where mining began in the early 1700s and produced more than 9 million tons of lead. Extensive lead and barite mining, milling and smelting activities were conducted in the WCLD for over 200 years, where contaminated soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater with elevated levels of heavy metals, primarily lead, prompted the need for state and EPA involvement. Some county residents have unknowingly purchased lead-contaminated soil and/or gravel for use in yards, driveways, parking areas, and playgrounds.
To protect human health and the environment from the dangers of lead in the WCLD, EPA has sampled (tested) over 6,300 residential yards for lead levels and over 600 yards have been cleaned up. Many more properties are eligible for remediation. EPA aims to sample as many residential and child high-use areas as possible for potential lead contamination. In addition, since 2006, approximately 4,200 private drinking water wells have been tested for elevated lead levels in the groundwater. EPA has provided filter systems or bottled water to prevent residents from drinking elevated levels of lead in their well water.
LEAD HEALTH RISKS AND TESTING FOR CHILDREN
Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their brains and nervous systems are still developing. Children 7 years old and younger are most at risk from developing health effects from exposure to lead. It is important that children in this age range be tested annually. The only way to know if your child has elevated blood lead levels is to have his or her blood tested. Talk to your pediatrician, general physician, or local health agency about what you can do and about testing your child. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check your child, or you, for lead exposure.
To arrange for lead screening of your children, please contact:
Washington County Health Department
520 Purcell Dr.
Potosi, MO 63664
You may also feel free to contact EPA about testing your residential yard and/or private drinking water well at no cost.
EPA CONTACT INFORMATION
Remedial Project Manager
Community Engagement Specialist
ADDITIONAL LEAD AND SITE INFORMATION
- EPA posts Fact Sheets for Missouri cleanup sites online
- CDC’s ATSDR Lead ToxFAQs™
- CDC’s Lead page
- EPA's Lead pages: www.epa.gov/lead and www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead
- EPA’s Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home
HOW WILL EPA CLEAN UP MY PROPERTY?
If your residential property qualifies for cleanup (also known as remediation), EPA will include an access agreement with a sampling results letter. By signing and returning the access agreement, owners are taking the first step in the process to allow the EPA contractor to clean up the affected areas of the yard. This work is being conducted at no cost to the property owner.
Step 1: The EPA contractor will schedule a time to meet with the homeowner, review the affected areas of the yard, answer any questions, and address any concerns.
Step 2: The EPA contractor will ask the owner to sign the checklist and give them final permission to start the work. Once utilities are located, the cleanup can begin within a few weeks, weather permitting. The contractor’s checklist of items to discuss will include the location of private utilities installed by the homeowner at the property and determining the best way to move equipment in and out. It is the sole responsibility of the contractor to have utilities marked and work around them as necessary. If the contractor damages utilities, they will repair the utilities at no cost to the property owner.
Step 3: The cleanup generally includes excavating up to one foot of soil from areas that qualify for cleanup, unless it is a garden. If a garden is still above the EPA “action level” at one foot of depth, it will be excavated to two feet. Prior to backfilling, a highly visible barrier will be placed at depth. If the soil is disturbed in the future, it warns people of contaminated soil below the barrier.
Step 4: The EPA contractor will then replace these areas with clean soil, return the grade to the original contours, and restore the lawn. Note: The contractor is only permitted to restore the property to its original condition, and is required to repair or replace any items damaged during the cleanup process.
Step 5: Once the restoration work is complete, the EPA contractor will request a final meeting with you to review the work and sign a final checklist to confirm satisfactory completion.