Heavy-Metal Racket

John Chamis and other residents of lead-contaminated Herculaneum are tired of getting jerked around by regulators and by Doe Run. They're demanding answers -- and results.

"I don't intend to naysay dioxin, and there are some real potential health hazards, and the more we study it, the more we know," she says. "But we know so much more about lead; we know there's an unacceptable health risk, especially to the children who live in Herculaneum. So, for me, the environmental hazard is greater at Herculaneum than at Times Beach."


In the three weeks since they listed their home, John and Wilma Chamis have had two prospects come by -- and neither has returned. They've dropped their price by $3,000, and the mayor's not sure how soon he'll sell.

So far, his first year in office hasn't been easy. Some residents complain that the publicity about the cleanup is overblown, hurting property values; others insist that not enough is being done. "How do you answer people? Being the mayor, they put me in the middle of it," he says.

"You know, it's a really nice, peaceful town. Good neighbors. Everything's good -- until this problem came up about this pollution stuff."

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