In our endeavor to understand the history of industrial lead in Omaha, and its long-standing pervasiveness as a human toxin in Omaha, our team has assembled relevant facts that help illuminate the systemic issues surrounding industrial lead that plagued Omaha. Our findings suggest the history of industrial lead in Omaha was facilitated by borderline kleptocratic behavior from business tycoons to government officials alike. Our project documented the overlap between various lead smelteries, the business that shipped lead throughout Omaha, and the types of products lead was incorporated into. When evaluating the history of these remediation sites, common themes emerged such as using disinformation, litigation, and denial to prioritize the pursuit of corporate interests above civic welfare.
Our research also documented partnerships between businesses that used industrial lead to support one another through mutually beneficial financial partnerships. Understanding the monopolistic behaviors and tendencies of certain business leaders helps explain historical inconsistencies such as Aaron Ferer & Sons refusing to negotiate on the Gateway remediation project.
Not one remediation site shared identical results with another, suggesting wide variations between lead contaminants within the Superfund site. Our research also uncovered that North Omaha had the highest concentration of industrial lead smelting facilities in comparison to the rest of the Superfund site. This research project also helps describe and catalog various merger events between companies that prevents transparency when researching industrial lead.
Poor regulation practices from local authorities and poor internal recordkeeping, mixed with minor discrepancies and disagreements within data amassed from primary sources added unexpected challenges. These issues are discussed in Sights Unseen, which make researching efforts more difficult and less fruitful. The efforts of our team were not fruitless; we began to assemble a complete working narrative from a series of poorly recorded, poorly organized facts. It is abundantly clear that further research is necessary regarding the history of industrial lead; our project is still an early attempt to consolidate and make sense of this complex story.
We as a research team sincerely appreciate that you followed our story of Omaha’s history with industrial lead.