Hundreds of miles of Missouri railroads have been found to be polluting the environment with a significant amount of lead.

After going through a bankruptcy related to pollution claims in 2009, metal mining and smelting company American Smelting and Refining Co. (ASARCO) was required to pay Missouri $234 million, $70 million of which was set aside to clean polluted counties. Now, lawyers for ASARCO are making the case that the money used on these cleanup efforts will be squandered if the Union Pacific Railroad does not play a role in lead poisoningaddressing the lead issue.

ASARCO filed a lawsuit last year seeking reimbursement from the railroad company for some of the costs of the lead contamination cleanup costs. It based its claims on the fact that the railway has been hauling lead and other dangerous ores in carts with open roofs and hinged bottoms for more than a century. The railroad also used waste from mining operations as the foundation for the railroad, which has lead to environmental pollution underground.

Union Pacific asserts that it does not share liability with ARASCO. Nevertheless, lead contamination is a significant problem along the company’s Missouri railways. Contamination levels as high as 2,610 parts per million have been found along parts of these railroads. In a residential area, that level of contamination would be more than twice the amount the Environmental Protection Agency would say requires “urgent remediation action.”

However, because the railroads in question are not in residential areas, fixing the pollution is a low priority. The EPA prioritizes cleaning areas where such contaminations can hurt people above resolving environmental concerns.

Lead once enjoyed widespread use as a base for paint until it was discovered that prolonged exposure to it can lead to severe health problems. If you believe your home has lead-based paints, a premises liability attorney of The Pottenger Law Firm LLC, can help you understand your legal options.