MAC: Mines and Communities

Landholder threatens to nix Doe Run lease; Suit accuses company of violating environmental laws.

Published by MAC on 2006-06-27

Landholder threatens to nix Doe Run lease; Suit accuses company of violating environmental laws.

Associated Press

27th June 2006

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Missouri landholding corporation that leases mining rights to the Doe Run Co. has filed a federal lawsuit against Doe Run, alleging violations of federal environmental laws at and near mining operations in Reynolds County.

Nadist LLC, based in St. Louis, said in the suit filed Friday in federal court in St. Louis that it will terminate the lease with Doe Run for mining rights at Sweetwater Mine and Mill unless the company addresses such problems as lack of permits and accumulation of waste.

The suit seeks unspecified damages but said it is mostly concerned that Doe Run clean up at the mining site and adjoining properties. The suit says that testing of soil, air and water samples shows they are contaminated with lead, zinc, arsenic and other heavy metals at unacceptable concentrations.

Runoff into two creeks has contaminated the Ozark aquifer, the local source of drinking water, the suit said.

"The object of the lawsuit is to have the court ask Doe Run to clean up the land, where there were serious and alarming levels of contamination found by DNR and EPA," said Hugh Law, attorney for Nadist. "We look forward to them recognizing their responsibilities."

Doe Run spokeswoman Barb Shepard said yesterday that the company was surprised by the lawsuit, believing it had 60 days from receipt of a June 19 letter from Nadist to negotiate a resolution to the landholding corporation's concerns.

"The letter was a notice to sue unless Doe Run 'cures the violations,' " Shepherd said. "There was no opportunity to enter into a discussion, to understand the issue. They've chosen to file a lawsuit, so we'll work through the process."

Law said that's a technical issue that a judge will decide.

"It's our position we're entitled to proceed with less notice," he said.

In a letter on May 3, 2005, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the extent of contamination at the Sweetwater Mine site would qualify it for placement on the National Priorities List for hazardous waste cleanup. That would put it among those with highest priority for remediation.

The 7,700-acre site near Ellington, in southern Missouri's lead belt, includes a lead and zinc mine, mill and 592-acre tailings pond.

Regional EPA officials in Kansas City, Kan., said Doe Run has agreed to a lead cleanup in the town of Viburnum, near Sweetwater Mine, and is one of five mining companies cleaning up roads used to haul ore.

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