It is true that Doe Run
is shutting down the smelter that has been in operation since 1892.
This is the last primary lead smelter in the U.S. and the Doe Run
Company, citing a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency,
issued the following release on their
The Doe Run Company (Doe Run) has issued the following response
related to the company’s Herculaneum, Mo., smelter:
On Dec. 31, 2013, The Doe Run Company’s primary lead smelter in
Herculaneum, Mo., which has operated since 1892, will cease operations.
As a result of the smelter’s closure, 145 Doe Run employees, and
approximately 73 contractors, will lose their jobs. Seventy-five
positions will be retained for closure and limited operations. Although
the United States is home to a number of secondary lead smelters, which
recycle lead from various sources, the Herculaneum facility is the last
primary lead smelter in the United States. (Primary smelters produce
lead from mined resources.)
In 2010, Doe Run reached a comprehensive
settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state
of Missouri. As part of that settlement, the Company agreed to
discontinue its smelting operations in Herculaneum by the end of 2013.
Over the operating life of the smelter, the Company spent millions of
dollars in environmental and other upgrades. Continuing to upgrade the
aging smelter to attempt to meet the increasingly stringent
environmental regulations imposed on primary lead smelters was not
economically feasible given the many other requirements of our
business.* We shared this news in 2010 in a press
on our website.
The Company had hoped to bring a revolutionary
lead metal production technology online prior to the closure of the
smelter. This proprietary, new technology (also announced
in 2010) uses
a wet-chemical, electrowinning process instead of a heat-based smelting
process, greatly reducing sulfur dioxide and lead emissions. In 2012, we
announced that the cost to build a comparably-sized electrowinning plant
was too great for our company, given the present economic conditions and
other demands on our operations. We continue to pursue opportunities to
bring this technology to commercialization, perhaps on a smaller scale.
This past year, we have worked with our Herculaneum employees to help
them transition into new opportunities. Some have taken jobs within
other divisions of our company; others have found new careers. Those who
remain have been provided skill assessment and training, resume and
interviewing skill building, financial counseling and a variety of
services. We have a dedicated, hardworking and skilled workforce and we
are making every effort to help them transition successfully. As noted
above, we expect to keep approximately 75 employees at our Herculaneum
facility in 2014 to assist with the continuing operations, including
refining and alloying of lead metal, and closure of our site.
More than 80 percent of all lead produced in the U.S. is used in
either motive batteries to start vehicles, or in stationary batteries
for backup power (particular in military, telecom and medical
applications). In the U.S., the recycle rate of these batteries is
approximately 98 percent, making lead-based batteries the most highly
recycled consumer product. These batteries are recycled at secondary
lead smelters. We own such a smelter in southern Missouri.
Lead is used in numerous other products, including ammunition and
construction materials, as well as to protect against radiation in
medical and military applications. While most applications can use
secondary lead, those applications that require primary lead will need
to import the lead metal in the future. Any additional demand for lead
(above that which can be met through recycling at secondary smelters)
will also have to be met through imports.
*In 2008, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead was reduced
from 1.5 µg/m3 (micrograms
of lead per cubic meter of air) to 0.15 µg/m3.
In December, the final primary lead
smelter in the United States will close. The lead smelter, located in
Herculaneum, Missouri, and owned and operated by the Doe Run Company,
has existed in the same location since 1892.
The Herculaneum Smelter is currently
the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion
from raw lead ore that is mined nearby in Missouri’s extensive lead
deposits, giving the smelter its “primary” designation. The lead bullion
produced in Herculaneum is then sold to lead product producers,
including ammunition manufactures for use in conventional ammunition
components such as projectiles, projectile cores, and primers. …
Doe Run made significant efforts to
reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal
Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality
Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous
standard. Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the
decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.
It would be hard to imagine a better
example of the Obama Regime’s use of the EPA to impose backdoor tyranny.
We would let you have guns, but you see lead causes air pollution.
If you think ammo prices are high now,
wait until they close the smelter.
After the Herculaneum smelter closes
its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional
ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible.
The national security implications of
severely curtailing our ability to produce our own ammunition are
obvious. But to our current rulers, national security means something
very different from what it did in the past. The idea is no longer to
defend America from foreign threats, but to impose the ultimate threat