Preparing a Former Industrial Site for New Purpose
28 Jul 2023
In the late 1700s, the bluffs along the Mississippi River were utilized for forming lead shot, and easy river access made Herculaneum, Missouri, a prime location for shipping lead shot down the Mississippi to supply markets in Europe. Lead production was expanded by Moses Austin from 1809 to 1821. After a period of inactivity, the St. Joseph Lead Company (Doe Run’s predecessor) opened a smelter at the site in 1892.
In the century that followed, the plant became a global supplier of high-purity lead metal, bringing commerce, jobs and economic vitality to the region. Today, the former smelter site is being transformed to bring jobs in shipping, warehousing, distribution and manufacturing to this premium Midwest location.
“When we closed our Herculaneum smelter in 2013, we had already envisioned what this site could become, especially with its prime access to river, road and rail transportation,” said Chris Neaville, Doe Run’s business development director. “We introduced our early concepts for a port development as Riverview Commerce Park. In 2011, the Jefferson County Port Authority prepared a study outlining the vision for this site as a major intermodal port and transportation hub. Soon after, a first dock was established and then a second to ship sand and other materials. In 2022, we reached a milestone when the Jefferson County Port Authority was granted $25 million by the Missouri legislature for the expansion of the Herculaneum Port.”
This effort is foundational to the larger goal of securing Jefferson County’s position as a major transportation hub and obtaining further funding to leverage the assets of this site for future commerce.
This cooperative effort between public and private sectors has the potential to create 2,706 permanent jobs and 9,919 construction-related jobs in Jefferson County.1
A Unique Site
Doe Run’s 500 contiguous acres with more than two miles of river frontage are foundational to what has potential to become a larger Jefferson County mega site of over 2,100 contiguous acres. The Herculaneum site’s size and proximity to Interstate 55 and its connection access to two class-A rail systems and the Mississippi River waterfront make it an ideal hub for shipping, manufacturing and distribution. An existing proposed master plan outlines the infrastructure improvements required for a state-of-the-art intermodal rail and river terminal complex. The proposed expanded port could serve businesses in neighboring Missouri counties of St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Washington, Franklin, Perry, Cape Girardeau, Scott, Mississippi, St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln.
“This site offers shippers the ability to circumvent ports on the east and west coasts, which have experienced tremendous backlogs in recent years. From there, products can be moved by rail or highway, or continue on water.”Jim McNichols, executive director at the Jefferson County Port Authority
Preparing the Site for Economic Growth
Upon the closure of the Herculaneum primary smelter, Doe Run submitted site-closure and redevelopment plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Over the past 20 years, we have invested $60 million in removal, cleanup and property acquisition to prepare the site for redevelopment. In 2022 alone, Doe Run invested approximately $2 million in site improvements, including:
- Relocated refinery operations to our secondary smelter in Boss, Missouri.
- Removed the refinery building, baghouses and concrete foundations.
- Commenced excavation and relocation of 220,000 tons of slag on the north portion of the property to the permitted slag storage on the south portion of the property. The slag is a byproduct of the smelting process left over from pre-1950 operations, and it can contain valuable metals, including critical minerals, such as cobalt and nickel, that may be reprocessed for metal recovery. Relocating it to one place will provide ease of access to the material in the future.
- Completed design and initiated permitting process for a portable water treatment plant to treat surface and rainwater on-site.
Neaville added, “Identifying a location like Herculaneum with the physical assets of river, rail and highway access, and that already has utilities and zoning in place for development, is practically unheard-of today.”
1 Jefferson County Ports Phase II Master Plan, March 2011, page 82