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EPA proposes former smelter site in Pueblo, Colo., for addition to Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 05/08/2014
Contact Information: Chris Wardell, 303-312-6062; Richard Mylott, 303-312-6654

Agency finalizes seven and proposes five hazardous waste sites as priorities for cleanup

(Denver, Colo. – May 8, 2014) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adding the former Colorado Smelter site in Pueblo, Colo., to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. The NPL proposal will be published in the Federal Register on May 12, initiating a 60-day public comment period on the proposed action. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites to protect public health and the environment.

The former Colorado Smelter site is located within a mixed-use neighborhood near the Arkansas River and Pueblo’s central business district. In 2011, EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) completed a site assessment that found elevated levels of lead and arsenic in residential soils and large slag piles in the vicinity of the site. These results indicated a comprehensive cleanup is necessary to reduce health risks for current and future residents. EPA and CDPHE have been working with city and county officials, community groups, interested stakeholders, and residents to develop information and identify next steps in addressing the contamination.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program, requires EPA to update the NPL at least annually and clean up hazardous waste sites to protect human health with the goal of returning them to productive use. A site’s listing neither imposes a financial obligation on EPA nor assigns liability to any party. Updates to the NPL do, however, provide policymakers with a list of high-priority sites, serving to identify the size and nature of the nation’s cleanup challenges.

The Superfund program has provided important benefits for people and the environment since Congress established the program in 1980.Those benefits are both direct and indirect, and include reduction of threats to human health and ecological systems in the vicinity of Superfund sites, improvement of the economic conditions and quality of life in communities affected by hazardous waste sites, prevention of future releases of hazardous substances, and advances in science and technology.

Superfund actions frequently convert contaminated land into productive local resources and can increase local property values by eliminating or reducing real and perceived health risks and environmental contamination associated with hazardous waste sites. A study conducted by researchers at Duke and Pittsburgh Universities concluded that, while a site’s proposal to the NPL reduces property values slightly, making a site final on the NPL begins to increase property values surrounding Superfund sites. Furthermore, the study found that, once a site has all cleanup remedies in place, surrounding properties have a significant increase in property values as compared to pre-NPL proposal values.

Since 1983, EPA has listed 1,701 sites on the NPL. At 1,158 or 68 percent of NPL sites, all cleanup remedies are in place. Approximately 662 or 39 percent of NPL sites have all necessary long-term protections in place, which means EPA considers the sites protective for redevelopment or reuse.

The following seven sites have been added to the NPL:

• MacMillan Ring Free Oil (former oil refinery) in Norphlet, Ark.;
• Keddy Mill (former sawmill, grist and wool carding mill) in Windham, Maine;
• PCE Southeast Contamination (ground water plume) in York, Neb.;
• PCE/TCE Northeast Contamination (ground water plume) in York, Neb.;
• Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation (former chemical manufacturer) in Fairfield, N.J.;
• Wolff-Alport Chemical Company (former metal extraction facility) in Ridgewood, N.Y.; and
• Walker Machine Products, Inc. (former machine screw products manufacturer) in Collierville, Tenn.;

The following five sites have been proposed for addition to the NPL:
• Colorado Smelter (former smelter) in Pueblo, Colo.;
• North Shore Drive (ground water plume) in Elkhart, Ind.;
• Delta Shipyard (former boat cleaning and repair) in Houma, La.;
• Baghurst Drive (ground water plume) in Harleysville, Pa.; and
• Jard Company, Inc. (former capacitor manufacturer) in Bennington, Vt.

Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites:

Information about how a site is listed on the NPL:

Information about the former Colorado Smelter site: