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EPA proposes to delete residential areas in north Denver from Superfund list

Milestone at Vasquez Boulevard/ Interstate 70 Superfund site reflects long-awaited completion of residential cleanups for lead and arsenic

02/06/2019
Contact Information: 
Richard Mylott (mylott.richard@epa.gov)
303-312-6654

DENVER-  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its intent to delete a portion of the Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate 70 (VB/I-70) Superfund site in Denver, Colorado from the National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s most contaminated sites.  EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have determined that all required cleanup activities are complete in the area proposed for deletion.  EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed action through March 8, 2019.

“EPA celebrates and shares this long-awaited milestone with those who live in the north-Denver neighborhoods affected by lead and arsenic contamination,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “Our proposal to delete these residential areas from the Superfund list is the culmination of nearly two decades of hard work and collaboration with the State of Colorado, the City of Denver and the local community.”

The VB/I-70 Superfund site includes four square miles in north Denver, including the Cole, Clayton, Swansea/Elyria, southwest Globeville and northern Curtis Park neighborhoods. EPA placed the site on the NPL in 1999 due to metals contamination, mainly lead and arsenic, associated with historic smelter operations in the area. In 2003, EPA selected a remedy for residential properties that included extensive soil sampling, soil removal, and a community health program. In completing that work, EPA has sampled more than 4,500 residential yards and cleaned up nearly 800.  

EPA is proposing to delete the residential area of the VB/I-70 Superfund site, also called Operable Unit 1, based on a determination that no further action is needed to protect human health and the environment. The area will continue to be subject to regular EPA review for protectiveness. EPA will continue to address contamination concerns at remaining portions of the VB/I-70 site, which includes the locations of two former smelters.   

Historically, the affected north-Denver neighborhoods were a major smelting center for the Rocky Mountain West. Two smelting plants—Omaha & Grant and Argo—operated at the site for varying lengths of time, beginning as early as the 1870s, refining gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc. As a result, heavy metals were deposited in area soils at levels that, in some cases, posed a health risk to residents. Groundwater was also impacted at the former smelter locations.

For more information, including how to comment on the proposed deletion, visit: https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0801646

Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.