New Funds Could Mean Faster Smelter Superfund Cleanup

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A promise of increased funding earlier this year is anticipated to expedite cleanup at the Colorado Smelter Superfund site in Pueblo, and a new contractor will be taking over the work.

Contaminated soil has already been removed and replaced in 47 yards in south Pueblo to address toxic lead and arsenic left behind by a long gone silver smelter. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Sabrina Forrest said she anticipates yard cleanups will begin again with the new contractor in early 2019.

"We’re really pushing to making it happen as quickly as possible, recognizing that people want to continue to see cleanups continue. We do as well," said Forrest.

The additional funds, announced this summer, mean an annual allotment of up to $15 million aimed at speeding up the cleanup process and removing lead in homes in the Bessemer, Eilers and Grove neighborhoods. According to the EPA, that's twice the original amount budgeted for the effort. 

The agency estimates the residential cleanups will cost $75 million and will now take four to six years to complete, ahead of the decade-long schedule originally planned. Funding is contingent on the federal budgeting process.

At this time, soil sampling is complete at more than half of the 1700 residential properties in the area and testing is ongoing. The EPA expects preliminary air quality monitoring results next month.