By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Trucks have begun hauling tons of mining waste through Webb City as part of a $19 million cleanup in Jasper County.
So far, the project is going well, city and environmental officials say.
“The complaints in the first week have been few, and the teams have been quick to address the issues,” said Carl Francis, interim city administrator. “We had one call last week complaining about the dust, and we had them water the haul road, which cut down on the problem greatly.”
But using water, while that is a quick fix, may not be the best option during the remaining winter months.
“There is a really fine line in using water to keep the dust down because of the chance of the water turning to ice,” said Mark Doolan, manager of the Jasper County Superfund Site for the Environmental Protection Agency. “We’re looking into using (a) chemical compound that would be much safer that would deal with the problem.”
Mining waste that is being hauled to the Sucker Flats mining pit in King Jack Park and to other nearby sites is the result of decades of lead and zinc mining and smelting in the region. That mining dates to the 19th century, and it ultimately left 7,000 acres in Jasper County scarred by chat piles and contaminated by heavy metals that continue to drain into streams, rivers and lakes, according to the EPA.
The 100-foot-deep pit in King Jack Park is the latest waste dumping site to be opened in Jasper County.
“We’re making really good progress so far,” Doolan said. “There is a lot of equipment rolling.”
Andrew Suminski is the senior engineer for Sullivan International Group, which is one of the companies contracted by the EPA for the Webb City cleanup. He said trucks hauled 300,000 cubic yards of waste during the first week of the project.
“We have been concentrating on filling in the old shafts along (Missouri Highway) 249 during this phase,” Suminski said. “Some of those areas are already 30 percent filled up.”
The shaft areas along Highway 249 will ultimately be capped, graded and seeded. A haul road that was constructed during the winter runs parallel to the dumping sites along Highway 249 and provides direct access to Sucker Flats. That pit has a capacity of 1 million cubic yards of mining waste and chat.
Suminski said a goal is to keep the nuisance to nearby residents down to a minimum.
“Moving this much material will take time, and everyone that we have worked with here gets that,” he said. “We’ve been scheduling our trucks to not disturb traffic and the local population.”
While traffic has been diverted in a few areas, the effect has been minimal, Francis said.
“It’s going smooth from our end, and we are happy with the initial progress,” he said. “Sure, it’s an inconvenience in splitting the park in two for now, but the benefits for the city will definitely be better down the line.”
Reclaiming park land
the ongoing mining cleanup will reclaim 16 acres of currently unusable land in Webb City’s King Jack Park and an additional seven acres at the Sucker Flats pit.