Puebloans want a say in cleaning up contaminated neighborhood

Puebloans want a say in cleaning up contaminated area

PUEBLO, Colo. - The Eilers neighborhood could be on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list by September. 

Community members met with EPA representatives at the Rawlings Library Thursday night. The EPA employees encouraged Puebloans to form a community advisory group. Its members would serve as liaisons between the EPA and the community. 

"It provides the EPA information that we might not know or take into consideration when planning site cleanup," said Chris Wardell, community involvement coordinator for region 8 of the EPA.

Kiera Hatton signed up to be one of the group's members. "I want the EPA to be accountable to the citizens of Pueblo so that we keep our community clean," she said.

David Webb, a real-estate agent who lives in Eilers, isn't sure how much power the group will have once the cleanup begins. "I think we will have a voice before the EPA but I think their minds are pretty much set up on a lot of issues," Webb said.

Once the neighborhood becomes listed, the EPA will investigate how deep the contamination lies. Earlier testing of 47 homes showed five had elevated arsenic levels and 15 had high lead levels. The EPA says it needs to do further testing before determining the boundaries of the Superfund site.  

In the meantime, Webb doesn't know what to tell his clients. "I don't have an answer for them now. I thought I did."

Wardell said it could take years from the time Eilers becomes a Superfund site to the start of the cleanup process. 

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