HERCULANEUM, Mo. (AP) - For more than two centuries, the Mississippi River town of Herculaneum has been tied inseparably to lead. The heavy, dull-gray metal has long been mined in southern Missouri.
But the end of the long tradition is in sight for the small community about 25 miles south of St. Louis. The company that runs the smelter, Doe Run Co., has decided to cease most operations at the end of the year, citing rising regulatory costs.
Lead has been both kind and cruel to Herculaneum. It has given the town an identity and ready jobs, but it also has created environmental and health concerns so worrisome that the federal government designated it a Superfund site.
Many of the town's children were found to have dangerously high lead levels in their blood.