The Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday issued a final hazardous waste permit for an Eagle Picher wastewater impoundment that once was contaminated with lead.
“This is a post-closure permit,” Nathan Kraus, a unit chief with the DNR said Thursday, meaning the impoundment had previously been cleaned up but the permit will continue to require surface and groundwater monitoring for several decades. Water from the site drains into Lone Elm Creek, a tributary of Turkey Creek and ultimately Spring River.
The permit also will contain an enforceable environmental covenant that will spell out limitations on property activity and uses going forward, including that it will remain an industrial site, a prohibition on well drilling, and more. The covenant will be kept on file with Jasper County’s recorder of deeds.
Kraus said there is no discharge from the impoundment today, but that monitoring and post-closure maintenance will be required at the site until 2053.
The impoundment is part of a 57-acre EaglePicher Technologies site at C Street and Porter Avenue. EaglePicher operated a commercial battery manufacturing plant there for decades, producing various types of batteries and other equipment used in defense and aerospace industries.
Over the decades, a variety of hazardous wastes including heavy metals were produced as a result of the manufacturing processes and were discharged and stored on the property. Today, hazardous wastes are shipped off-site for processing and/or disposal at other permitted facilities.
The company operated several hazardous-waste containment storage areas, including two surface water impoundments — one for mercury-contaminated wastewater and another for lead-contaminated wastewater.
They were identified as environmental concerns in the 1980s. Both ponds closed in 1990 and 1991. Closure involved removing, treating and disposing of liquids and sediments, backfilling the ponds with soil and installing a cap. The Environmental Protection Agency accepted EaglePicher’s closure report and certification of both ponds in 1994 but also required post-closure maintenance that included further investigation and monitoring.
Post-closure maintenance and monitoring of the impoundment with mercury ended in 2003.
“They’re cleaned up. They’re capped. This permit outlines the maintenance of that cap and the monitoring of the ground and surface water,” said Aaron Rice, director of environmental health and safety for EaglePicher.
“This brings to a close a lot of hard work on both sides for EaglePicher and the DNR,” he added.
All documents and permit information is on file at the Joplin Public Library, Kraus said.