The Environmental Protection Agency is making progress on the Colorado Smelter Superfund Site in Pueblo.
Homes in neighborhoods near downtown Pueblo are being tested and cleaned up to remove lead and arsenic contamination in the area.
They have been sampling the site since 2015 and cleaning up the indoor dust and outdoor soil since then, barring some delays due to COVID-19.
Sabrina Forrest, the Remedial Project Manager says they are nearing the last phase of their residential sampling and cleanups for the neighborhoods in Operable Unit 1.
"We're already done with 86% of the projected cleanups that we think were needed. And we're done with 99% of the soil sampling"
They have collected samples from over 1700 homes and are around 70% complete with samplings of dust in residents homes.
Resident Josh Dodds lives in a property that the EPA was testing today, he says he reached out to the EPA after the sampling confirmed he had traces of the lead and arsenic in the yard.
"I know I don't want to eat vegetables that were growing in lead-filled dirt, so I think it's just great for the community."
Dodds says the EPA team has been great about the cleanup, and he is looking forward to when it is done.
“I’ve got a grandson, he'll be able to play in the yard without any issues, my animals will be healthy.”
Forrest says the residential sampling should be wrapped up around spring next year, with projected cleanups being done by the fall of next year.
Next month, they will begin sampling the site of the former smelter area. The smelter was responsible for contaminating the neighborhoods near downtown when it was in operation in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
"Part of what we have to identify is: what are all the contaminants associated with that former smelter area? How high are the levels of contamination? And what are the best ways to manage that?”
The sampling of the lead and arsenic will begin earlier than planned thanks to funding made available to the EPA after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed, freeing up more funding for projects like this.
"We had the opportunity to move our part of the project, Operable Unit 2 where the former smelter is, up two years"
The EPA is hoping to keep areas in Pueblo safe for residents and for commercial properties which they will begin sampling in 2023.
Forrest says they hope to clean up the former smelter area for those who use the land into its future.
"I feel really good that we have come this far so quickly, I think this has been a quickly progressing project from sampling to cleanup."
The final phases of residential cleanups are underway at the neighborhoods in Pueblo. If you live in the areas being cleaned up, and haven’t received a cleanup, you can sign up by reaching out to EPA Region 8 manager:
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