IRONTON, Mo. – Rep. Linda Black, R-Park Hills, is calling for public comment regarding the allocation and use of settlement funds related to the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District (SEMOLMD) from a lawsuit against lead smelter ASARCO.
Black writes that the State, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a meeting in early September at Johnson Shut-ins “to present a restoration proposal related to the natural resource damage assessment and restoration.” Black continues that meeting was not posted on related agencies’ websites or calendars for stakeholder awareness.
“A disconcerting proposed action of the trustees is to purchase large tracts of land outside of the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District (“SEMOLMD”) to perform ‘compensatory’ activities,” Black writes. “One proposed project is to acquire 2463 acres in Oregon County on the Eleven Point River. Oregon County was not a plaintiff in any of the lead litigation cases. The Eleven Point River is a National Scenic River. This proposed project is not in the best interest of the SEMOLMD. This has direct and local impact. The original budget included $1.6 Million from an ASARCO settlement from Madison County Mines which was intended to remediate Fredericktown Lake, Fredericktown’s sole source of drinking water. The proposed budget now reduces Madison County’s share to $500,000. There was not adequate public notice and on September 23, 2015 Area Wide News reported DNR already had an option on the property in Oregon County. It appears the trustees have already made the final decision on the ‘proposed projects.'”
The community alert asked for comments and included an example letter.
“A significant portion of the proposed projects move settlement money out of the damaged resource areas (Iron, Madison, St. Francois Counties) to other more ‘scenic parts’ of the state.”
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.