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End of an era as smelter closes in Missouri town

Doe Run, which hopes to find a buyer for the site, will continue mining lead in southern Missouri but will send the ore elsewhere for smelting, primarily to Asia, Hughes said. China is the world's leading lead smelter.

The loss of the smelter will have lasting effects that go beyond jobs. Doe Run helped build a fire station in 2010 and a $6 million bridge last year. The company also funded scholarships, athletic events and other school-related expenses, and its taxes contributed $500,000 in 2012 to the district.

"There were the negatives with the smelter," school Superintendent Stan Stratton said. "But they were always good partners."

Kathleen Logan Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment acknowledged the drawbacks, but said the quality of life will improve.

"For the folks living closest to the plant and the people who have endured lead dust on their streets, their lives are hopefully going to get better," she said. "There's an opportunity to re-envision what Herculaneum is and ought to be."

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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