ST. LOUIS • An old Missouri lead mining site that has been a dormant nuisance for decades may soon get new life, thanks to its vast reserves of a metal vital for use in electric vehicle batteries.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced an agreement allowing a division of Missouri Cobalt LLC to implement a cleanup plan at the Madison County Mines site near Fredericktown. It will remain on the Superfund list, but the cleanup allows reuse for cobalt mining.
It isn’t clear how long the cleanup will take or when mining will resume. Missouri Cobalt CEO Michael Hollomon declined comment. Lead was mined at the site for decades until the early 1960s. The lead waste left behind resulted in the Superfund designation in 2003.
Lead contamination can cause learning disabilities and other problems for children. Blood testing in the 1990s found that up to 15 percent of children living near the old mining site had elevated levels of lead in their blood.
The EPA said recent testing had shown a significant drop in blood-lead levels, but offered no data. Messages seeking comment from state and Madison County health officials were not immediately returned.