Hazardous Waste Program

EaglePicher Technologies LLC

EPA ID# MOD046740148

DNR Contact:     David Walker, 573-751-3553 or 800-361-4827
EPA Contact:     Bruce Morrison, 913-551-7755 or 800-223-0425
Facility Contact: Tim J. Bentz, 417-623-8000
Last Updated:     Jan. 10, 2012

Current Activities

EaglePicher is performing long-term monitoring and maintenance of a closed lead chemicals settling pond and performing corrective action activities under two hazardous waste permits. The status of EaglePicher’s post-closure and corrective action activities is described below. The public can review and copy paper copies of all permits, reports and supporting documents at the agency locations above.

Facility Description

The EaglePicher Technologies site is located on about 57 acres at “C” and Porter streets in Joplin. In 1843, Eagle White Lead Works began operating a lead processing and smelting facility at the site and produced white lead, mainly as a base for paints. In 1916, they merged with a lead mining company, Picher Lead Co., and formed Eagle-Picher Lead, a corporation that mainly produced zinc based products. Over the years EaglePicher (known as, among others, EaglePicher Co., EaglePicher Mining and Smelting, EaglePicher Industries Inc., New EaglePicher Technologies and EaglePicher Inc.) continued to grow, diversify and purchase other manufacturing companies to add to their corporation.

In its early years, EaglePicher mined many different types of minerals for use in developing new automotive and industrial products, such as storage batteries. By the late 1930s, EaglePicher stopped lead smelting and converted to lead chemicals manufacturing. The Chemicals Facility manufactured specialty lead chemicals for compounding lubricants, paint and primer pigments, dye colors and vinyl stabilizers, as well as other lead compounds. The Chemicals Facility stopped operating in July 2003.

Currently EaglePicher Technologies LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of OM Group Inc., designs and manufactures batteries, battery management systems and energetic devices for the defense, aerospace and medical industries. EaglePicher’s Couples Facility, which began operating in 1950, produces and tests batteries and power supplies for special military and space applications. Typical battery systems include silver/zinc and lithium aluminum/iron sulfide batteries. A fire destroyed part of the operations in 1991; however, new buildings were built at the same location. EaglePicher’s Special Products Facility, which began operating in the late 1970s as the Ordinance Division, manufactures silver/zinc, nickel/hydrogen and nickel/iron battery systems for specialty applications and pyrotechnic heat sources.

A variety of hazardous wastes were produced as part of the facility operations. EaglePicher operated two hazardous waste surface impoundments. The lead chemicals settling pond was used to hold treated process wastewater from the Chemicals Facility, to allow the remaining solids to settle. The mercury waste impoundment was used to manage wastewater produced by the Couples Facility during the mercury production process in battery manufacturing.

Post-Closure and Corrective Action Status

In 1989, EaglePicher closed both the lead chemicals settling pond and mercury waste impoundment according to department-approved closure plans. Closure included removing, treating and disposing of the liquids and sediments from the impoundments, backfilling the impoundment with soil and installing a cap. The department accepted EaglePicher’s closure report and certification for both impoundments in July 1994; however, because hazardous waste remained in place after closure, the area is also required to go through a period of post-closure care. As part of the post-closure care, EaglePicher was required to further investigate the impoundments, including extensive groundwater monitoring. The results showed the closed mercury impoundment no longer required post-closure monitoring. EaglePicher requested a permit modification to shorten the post-closure care period for the closed mercury impoundment. The permits were modified in April 2003, terminating post-closure care for the closed mercury impoundment; however, groundwater monitoring is still required at the closed lead chemicals settling pond through 2053. The primary contaminant of concern is lead pollution in the soil and groundwater.

According to applicable state and federal hazardous waste laws and regulations, all hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities are required to investigate and clean up releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment at their facility resulting from present and past hazardous waste handling practices. In 1987, EPA performed a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, Facility Assessment for the site. The assessment was conducted to identify and gather information on potential or actual releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment. By April 1995, 128 solid waste management units and four areas of concern were identified.  Based on these results, the investigation concluded many of these units and areas required additional investigation.

In response to the assessment, EaglePicher conducted a RCRA Facility Investigation to define the horizontal and vertical extent of any contamination. While preparing for the investigation, EaglePicher determined 69 of the identified solid waste management units did not require further investigation. Of the four areas of concern, one was reclassified as a solid waste management unit and one was not investigated because evidence of a release was lacking. EaglePicher conducted the investigation in two phases. Phase I activities were performed in June-July 1995 and Phase II activities were performed in October 1998. Additional investigations were performed between 1999 and 2001 to determine the presence of historical mining features on the property. Additional surface water and sediment investigations were performed in July 2007. EaglePicher submitted a RCRA Facility Investigation Report to the department and EPA in January 2009. The department is currently reviewing the report. What, if any, cleanup activities necessary will be based on the investigation results. 

In June 2008, EaglePicher began closing the five permitted container storage areas. Closure activities are nearly complete.

Regulatory Status

EaglePicher operated the hazardous waste management units under two hazardous waste permits issued in August 1993. Even though EaglePicher closed the hazardous waste management units, EaglePicher is subject to the permitting requirements of the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law and federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments for post-closure care because hazardous waste remained in place after closure. EaglePicher is also subject to corrective action because they completed closure after the effective date of the federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments.

EaglePicher is conducting post-closure and corrective action activities under two hazardous waste permits, one issued by the department and one issued by EPA, both effective Sept. 28, 2010. The permits were first issued in 1993. The department reissued the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit. EPA reissued the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit. These permits require EaglePicher to continue to perform long-term monitoring and maintenance of the closed lead chemicals settling pond. The permits also require corrective action in the event there is a release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to the environment.