Neatly contained within 7 acres near Moscow Mills—less than an hour’s drive from St. Louis—the Shenandoah Stables once offered a bucolic setting for the boarding, selling, and training of horses. The main arena hosted an abundance of horse-related fun—think horse trotting and barrel racing—but it all kicked up a lot of dust (less fun!). In May 1971, Shenandoah hired the Bliss Waste Oil Company (uh-oh—see Times Beach) to spray the arena with approximately 2000 gallons of oil to tamp down the dirt. Unfortunately, this waste oil was, well, not really waste oil. Rather, the Northeastern Pharmaceutical Chemical Company (NEPACCO) in southwest Missouri had contracted Bliss to dispose of their “still bottoms” pesticide waste—basically the mega-toxic dioxin—and Bliss had the smart idea to mix this goop with oil, and to spray it to control dust at dozens of sites across the St. Louis region. Shortly after he soaked the Shenandoah arena with this ultra-toxic residue from toxic pesticides, you couldn’t help but notice that the horses were dying—40 of them, ultimately—and that children, birds, pets, and seemingly all other living things in and around the arena were falling sick. Alarmed, the owner of the stables quickly removed 6-8 inches of the arena dirt, and happily sold it to use as fill on a nearby highway project—but the horses were still dying, so the owner removed an additional 18 inches of dirt, and used it to fill in a lovely small wetland on his property, until he thought better of that decision and moved all the dirt to nearby barns.
10 years after the initial spraying, the EPA ordered the stables to limit public access to the property. To clean up the mess, the EPA initially warmed to the cool “leave it in the barn” idea. Ultimately, however, they opted to haul the nearly 3500 cubic yards of contaminated material south—with a whole lot of the dirt the Bliss Company had sprayed at other sites—and to burn it at the temporary incinerator at Times Beach (aka Route 66 State Park). A decade of digging and hauling and burning left the Shenandoah Stables with apparently acceptable dioxin levels, and people and horses continue to inhabit the site.