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EPA to Remove and Replace Lead-Contaminated Soils at 11 Schools, 16 Child Care Facilities in St. Francois County, Mo.

Release Date: 11/19/2010
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394, whitley.christopher@epa.gov


Environmental News


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., November 19, 2010) – EPA Region 7 today announced plans to remove and replace soils at 11 schools and 16 child care centers and Head Start facilities in St. Francois County, Mo., because recent testing has confirmed elevated levels of toxic lead in the soil.

EPA ordered further soil testing at the county’s schools and child care facilities as the next phase of its project to remove and replace lead-contaminated soils at Central Middle School in Park Hills. The work at Central Middle School was part of EPA’s cleanup activity at the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp. Superfund Site, located in Missouri’s Old Lead Belt, where lead mining and milling has occurred for more than a century. The 110-square-mile site is composed of six large areas of mine waste, as well as surrounding residential and recreational areas.

“EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment carries a special obligation to take action against environmental threats to the health and development of young children,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “These removal actions will protect more than 5,300 of St. Francois County’s children from unnecessary and potentially harmful exposures to lead in places where they learn and play.”

Although the effects of lead poisoning are a potential concern for humans of all ages, children less than seven years old and pregnant women are especially at risk. Significant health risks associated with lead poisoning include brain damage, developmental delays, behavioral problems, anemia, liver and kidney damage, hearing loss and hyperactivity.

Young children are typically exposed to lead by playing in contaminated soils and then putting dirty fingers in their mouths, and by breathing contaminated dust. For those reasons, EPA will work in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) as well as school officials, child care center operators, and parents, to ensure children avoid playing in or near contaminated soils at the 27 facilities until the removal actions are completed. Frequent and thorough hand washing, and cleaning of outdoor toys and play equipment, is also advised. Taking these measures will allow the facilities to operate normally until EPA can remove the contaminated soils from areas where children are likely to be exposed.

EPA intends to begin the soil removal process as soon as possible, and will work cooperatively with school administrators and child care facility operators to minimize disruptions at their facilities as the work is completed. School vacation schedules and weather conditions may affect the pace of the work. Facilities and schools attended by children less than seven years old will be addressed first.

EPA estimates that the initial phase of removing contaminated soils from the 27 facilities will cost at least $6 million, not including additional costs for contaminated soil disposal and new soil replacement. EPA will pay for the initial costs of removal, but may seek to recover some or all of its total costs if one or more parties responsible for the contamination are properly identified.

The 11 schools designated for contaminated soil removal and clean backfill replacement include:

    • North County Parkside Elementary School, 100 North Parkside, Desloge
    • North County Intermediate School, 801 Elm Street, Desloge
    • North County Primary School, 405 Hillcrest Drive, Bonne Terre
    • North County Middle School, 406 East Chestnut, Desloge
    • North County Senior High School, 7151 Raider road, Bonne Terre
    • Unitec Career Center, 7163 Raider Road, Bonne Terre
    • West Elementary School, 403 W. Fite Street, Park Hills
    • Central Elementary School, 900 St. Francois Avenue, Park Hills
    • Central High School, 116 Rebel Drive, Park Hills
    • Special Acres State School, 519 Eighth Street, Park Hills
    • St. Joseph School, 20 Saint Joseph Street, Bonne Terre

The 16 child care centers and Head Starts designated for contaminated soil removal and clean backfill replacement include:
    • A To Z Learning Tree, 301 Hillcrest Street, Bonne Terre
    • Bonne Terre Head Start, 2 Savannah Drive, Bonne Terre
    • Lil Britches Day Care Preschool, 24 Rivermines Drive, Park Hills
    • Kidz Connection, 801 N. Desloge Drive, Desloge
    • Patches and Pigtails Child Care, 203 Yale Street, Bonne Terre
    • Grandma’s House Child Care Center, 204 N. Cantwell Lane, Desloge
    • Becky’s Daycare, 535 Cochrane Road, Park Hills
    • All Aboard Play and Learn Center, 703 E. Main Street, Park Hills
    • Tender Care Day Care Center, 611 Jefferson, Park Hills
    • Mid St. Francois County Head Start, 204 10th Street, Park Hills
    • Bright Beginnings Child Care Center,10 S. 6th Street, Park Hills
    • Start Daycare, 905 Tyler Street, Park Hills
    • Scribbles Play and Learn Center, 403 S. School Street, Desloge
    • North County Educational Center, 110 Pointview Drive, Bonne Terre
    • West County’s Happy Times Day Care, Bismarck
    • Children’s Zone LLC, 1109 N. Desloge Drive, Desloge

School administrators and child care facility operators have been informed of the testing results, EPA’s plans for soil removal and replacement, and a series of recommended interim health and safety precautions to protect children from harmful lead exposure while the removal work is proceeding at the facilities.

EPA will host a public meeting to share information and answer questions about the testing results, the soil removal and replacement plan, and health issues associated with lead exposure from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, November 29, at Mineral Area College, North College Center Rooms A and B, 5720 Flat River Road, in Park Hills.

Representatives from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) will be present at the meeting to offer free blood lead screenings. Representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the St. Francois County Health Department will also attend.
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Learn more about health risks associated with lead exposure:
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/health/contaminants/lead/health.htm