About 55 miles southwest of St. Louis, Steven Anderson — who owns an outfitter called Cherokee Landing in Bonne Terre — routinely takes his customers to St. Francois State Park.
To a trained observer like Anderson, the beach where he launches his kayak trips offers clear signs of lead contamination. Before taking off recently, he scooped up a handful of gravel.
“See these gray and black specks?” he said, pointing at the tiny dark rocks in his hand. “There’s a lot of heavy tailings on this beach.”
The tailings are discarded mine waste from the lead mining that long took place in St. Francois County. The Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to clean up the waste along the Big River, which runs through the heart of Missouri's Old Lead Belt.