Neighbors say more health studies are needed

Neighbors say more health studies are needed

PUEBLO, Colo. - Those who live in the Eilers Heights neighborhood question whether a smelter site from the 1800s is having adverse effects on people's health.

The slag pile is near Santa Fe and I-25. The Environmental Protection Agency says wind has carried contaminated soil to nearby Pueblo neighborhoods, leaving behind high levels of lead and arsenic. The EPA says the only way to clean up the area is to declare it a Superfund site.

"At this time, we don't know of another source, a really large source, of funds to deal with a slag pile as large as the one that we have here," said Sabrina Forrest, a site assessment manager with the EPA.

Pam Kocman, who lives in the Eilers Heights neighborhood, questions why the elderly people who live in the community aren't sick. "If we've been exposed to lead for, you know, this many years, you'd think that they would be sick and they're not," she said.

But some who used to live and play near the slag pile say they are.

"I came here today because I'm sick. I'm 36 years old and I have countless health problems with blood clots, kidney stones, cysts on my kidneys, cysts on my ovaries," said Anjelica Crites, who used to live near the slag pile.

Crites says there's no way to know if the smelter site is to blame, but she, like many other neighbors, says more health studies need to be done before they can decide whether the slag pile is the cause.

Before the EPA can declare the area a Superfund site, it needs approval from Pueblo City Council and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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