HERCULANEUM • About 145 employees of the Doe Run lead smelter have learned they will lose their jobs at the end of December because of the plant’s closure, the Doe Run Co. said Wednesday. An additional 73 contractor jobs also will be eliminated.
The job cuts were expected. The plant, which has operated for more than a century and is the lone remaining lead smelter in the United States, announced in 2010 that it will cease operations at the end of this year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the company “made a business decision” to shut down the smelter instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act.
The Doe Run Co. announced last year that it had dropped plans to build a new lead processing facility in Herculaneum that would have used a new, cleaner lead production technology. The company cited the
$100 million project as too financially risky.
Employees were notified of their future with the company or of their impending layoff between Sept. 30 and Oct. 8 in face-to-face meetings, said Tammy Stankey, a company spokeswoman.
The company will keep about 75 employees into 2014 to operate its refinery and strip mill and to prepare the property “for closure and repurposing.” It expects to have transferred 43 employees to other Doe Run divisions by this year’s end, according to a company statement.
Some operations, such as the water treatment plant, will operate indefinitely, and a maintenance staff will remain to “maintain essential facilities,” the company said.
The company said it had been working with employees for months to help them transition to new roles and had set up a career center to help with resume writing, interviewing and job searches.
“We have a very talented workforce and encourage businesses looking for dedicated, hardworking and skilled employees to contact us,” Gary Hughes, general manager of the smelter, said in the statement.