About 200 people attended the latest update Thursday on cleaning the site of the former Cotter uranium mill in Canon City.
The EPA and the state health department spent the two-hour meeting informing residents of a "road map" outlining the process to deal with contaminated groundwater and soil on the site.
According to the road map, officials will focus on three specific areas: the mill facility and the surrounding area, including the Shadow Hills golf course; the Lincoln Park residential area north of the mill where contaminated groundwater was found; and other scattered contamination areas.
Officials said their goal is to clean up the mill, which is on the Superfund list of federal contaminated sites, as efficiently as possible without endangering public and environmental health.
However, officials said the cleanup process is slowed by the complexity of the task and the involvement of the the state, the federal government and Cotter management. Officials also are making a strong effort to include public feedback in the decision-making process.
Steve Tarlton of the state health department said as part of the process, officials will review past cleanup projects to determine how effective they were, and if they can be duplicated in future projects. For now, Tarlton said, no new projects can begin, but current projects continue.
"Now, we need to go back and at each of those situations, and determine if what we did was an adequate, permanent remedy, or was that just the first step in a series of remedies that would ultimately solve the problem," he said.
During Thursday's public meeting, many residents questioned the process and expressed frustration that there is no timetable for completing the cleanup. Sharyn Cunningham is among some Lincoln Park residents worried about contamination spreading from the mill site to other areas.
"I have two wells that are contaminated," she said. "They're worthless to me, and nobody told me when we purchased them, and we drank the water in one of them for eight years. Cotter wants to let nature clean the water. That's not good enough. We want an active groundwater treatment plant that will clean our water and restore our property back to us.
Tarlton said officials are monitoring well water for contamination and a final decision hasn't been made on the situation.
The public has 30 days to comment on the road map. Officials say the next public meeting could be held in September. A previous meeting was held last February.
The mill opened in 1956, ceased production in 2006 and officially closed last December.