Superfund Site: COLORADO SMELTER
PUEBLO, CO

Superfund Site Profile

SITE BACKGROUND

The Colorado Smelter was a silver and lead smelter that operated in the Eilers and Bessemer neighborhoods from 1883 to 1908. EPA listed the site on the National Priorities List in December 2014, due to its concern about high levels of arsenic and lead (metals) that have been identified in smelter slag and neighborhood soils.

Pueblo was once home to five ore smelters and is still home to one active steel mill. The Colorado Smelter historical footprint is bound by Santa Fe Avenue to the east, Mesa Avenue to the south, Interstate 25 to the west, and the Arkansas River to the north. The Bessemer, Eiler and Grove neighborhoods are adjacent to the former Colorado Smelter site, which now consists of building remains and an approximately 700,000-square-foot slag pile.

The potential for contamination at the Colorado Smelter site was discovered during an earlier inspection of the Santa Fe Bridge Culvert site, which began a series of investigations in the early 1990s and continues today. In 2010, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) conducted a focused site inspection of properties surrounding the Colorado Smelter; this study determined the presence of elevated lead and arsenic levels. These levels pose a threat to current and future residents. Additional sampling will help determine the type and scope of cleanup activities.

There are approximately 1,900 residential parcels in the preliminary study area, which covers a half-mile radius from the former smelter. Ninety-five percent of the homes are pre-1978 (before the lead paint ban). They are predominantly single-family homes, many with bare-soil yards.