Readers sound off on the fragile issue of Crystal City's smelter

Feature, January 17, 2008

Helter Smelter

Yes to smelters: I would like to make a few comments on Chad Garrison's "Smelterville." I grew up during the Depression, and I remember the factories and pollution. It wasn't pretty, but it furnished jobs and living wages for many families, including mine. I don't doubt that the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company left behind a mess, but I think the people in your area should give a lot of thought to the jobs and revenue this plant will produce. As for the caves and amusement park, those are hardly reasons to give up good jobs. It is unfortunate for the neighbor with an adjoining property, but one man's experience is not a good reason to stop a plant with the potential to boost an entire city's economy. As far as pollution, I seriously doubt the Environmental Protection Agency will allow the area to become a problem or an eyesore. To the people of the area, I say give a lot of thought before you pass up a good opportunity for the economy.
Ed Herr, Florissant

No to smelters: As mentioned in "Smelterville," Jim Kennedy's proposal for an iron smelter in Crystal City has raised questions and concerns from locals and the rest of us concerned about air quality and pollution issues. In press reports, Mr. Kennedy has said that the facility's emissions will compare to those of the Rush Island Power Plant, a facility that is not clean by any sane definition. Then he writes a lease that delivers cash to Crystal City only on the basis of iron production after he has closed out the mining permits on the Pea Ridge mine, which he owns. Now why would someone close out the permits on a mine if they were planning on mining there? And why would they close out the permits if the mine is such a great investment? Is it really such a good deal? How many tons of pollution? What are the guarantees? The proposed smelter is an obvious threat to property values and public health. Those threats, along with inconsistencies and vague promises from Mr. Kennedy, give Crystal City residents, and all of us who breathe in eastern Missouri, reason to pause. Iron smelters are dirty, dirty plants; one trip to Granite City, Illinois, is educational, but the other smelters around the country using a variety of processes emit toxic chemicals, like lead and cyanide, and thousands of tons of greenhouse gases and choking particulate matter. Jefferson County residents already bear the brunt of emissions from the Doe Run smelter at Herculaneum, which has failed to meet health-based air quality standards for the vast majority of its years in operation, including most of last year.

Any deal worth doing in Crystal City should be able to withstand the light of public scrutiny - the smelter deal has not met this hurdle. It remains shrouded in secrecy with most of the hard facts being hard-won by residents dedicated to protecting their city's future. The deal stinks and any smelter will, too.
Kathleen Logan Smith, St. Louis

News Short, January 17, 2008

Come Home, Obama

And clean up that dump: In regards to Keegan Hamilton's "Sacred Garbage," I've been trying to get Barack Obama to do something about this dump for about a year. I have yet to hear anything from him. This is in his governing area as he is a senator from Illinois. He doesn't even take care of his own state; what makes people think he would do any different as the president? Now we hear he has an association with crooked real estate dealings. Maybe he has made a deal with those who sell out the past and the future too!
Patrick Klaybor, Muskego, Wisconsin

ERRATA

The drawing that accompanied Paul Friswold's January 10 Night & Day item "Another Story" was incorrectly identified as the one-time interior of the Merchandise Mart Apartments; in fact, the sketch depicts what the Arcade Building once looked like.

 
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