Eilers neighborhood cleanup to be discussed

Eilers neighborhood cleanup to be discussed

PUEBLO, Colo. - Those who live in the Eilers neighborhood could soon learn whether the federal government will be cleaning up traces left behind from an old smelter.

City and county officials are meeting Tuesday with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Pueblo City-County Health Department to discuss the lead and arsenic contamination in Eilers.

About one hundred years ago, Pueblo was home to five smelters and known as the smelter capital of the world. One of those smelters was near Eilers.

In October, Dr. Moussa Diawara, a professor at CSU-Pueblo, told city council members that lead levels in Eilers are four times higher than in other parts of Pueblo.

In order for the EPA put the neighborhood on its Superfund list, city or county leaders need to write Gov. John Hickenlooper saying they support the cleanup. Pueblo County Commissioner Liane McFadyen and Pueblo City Council member Chris Nicoll hope to have that letter drafted before the end of the year.

"I think we need to start working on that and getting our draft compiled," Nicoll said.

"The point of declaring it a site for the EPA to look at is so that we can go ahead and test more so we can utilize the funds," McFadyen said. If the city and county don't support the cleanup soon, McFadyen said the money set aside for it could run out.

Nicoll said, "With federal money available, we need to take advantage of that."

But McFadyen and Nicoll said it's not just about they money. They're also concerned about the effects arsenic and lead contamination have on children.

In October, investigators with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conducted tests in Pueblo. Those results are expected to be released before this week's meeting.

The meeting will be Tuesday at St. Mary Help of Christian Church at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to address local and state officials.

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