PUEBLO, Colo. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited the Colorado Smelter Superfund site in Pueblo, Colorado on Monday.

“We are here to help, together we can get this community and these neighborhoods where they need to be,” said Wheeler. “The most important facet of this project is the children that play in the yards and the home in the surrounding community.”

The Colorado Smelter site includes approximately 1,900 residential and commercial properties, however, the majority are homes.

A 700,000-square-foot slag piles still on site from past smelting activities near I-25 and Northern Avenue in Pueblo.

The EPA said unsafe levels of arsenic and lead could be in the soil nearby and even getting in the air ducts contaminating the dust inside.

“Our real goal at this site is to reduce the number of children with elevated blood leads, we are trying to protect human health at this site,” said Jennifer Harrison, with the EPA. “Most people have been appreciative, that EPA is doing this work and I think they realize that its important.”

This site was targeted in 2018 for additional funds to accelerate the cleanup of lead, arsenic and heavy metals in the surrounding community.

To date, EPA said they have completed sampling activity at 84 percent of properties requiring soil sampling and 59 percent of properties requiring indoor dust sampling.

The Agency has also completed cleanup actions at 48 percent of properties projected to require soil cleanups and at 30 percent of properties projected to require indoor dust cleanups.

“That about 50/50,” said Jaime Miller a project manager with the EPA. “For all of us that was a little higher than anticipated so that’s a metric we continue to track.”

Pueblo’s Mayor Nick Gradisar encouraging homeowner to consent their property to be sampled.

“This seems like a no-brainer,” Gradisar said. “This is going to help you in the future if you are ever going to sell that property.”

Call 303-482-6970 if you are in the impacted area and need your soil tested.

The Mayor also announced the city’s Colorado Smelter Revitalization Plan to rebuild that area once cleanup is complete.

See the full plan here.

EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento and Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin also were in town.

Wheeler promised the project would be completely cleaned up by 2023 at the latest.

Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson Eli Rosen:
“Senator Gardner’s support for Andrew Wheeler is letting the fox guard the henhouse, and our environment is paying the price. Gardner has been a rubber stamp for Trump and Wheeler’s toxic agenda, stripping protections for our air and water and letting polluters off the hook during a global pandemic. Coloradans will remember that record in November.”

>> Tap here for tips on how to keep your home clean in the meantime.