Region 8

Smeltertown Site

Smeltertown site location map Site Type: Proposed NPL
City: Salida
County: Chaffee
Street Address: 9000 County Road #152
ZIP Code: 81201
EPA ID: COD983769738
Site ID: 0801085
SSID: 08J6
Site Aliases: Arkansas Valley Smelter, Cozinco, Koppers Salida, Trinchera Timber Co.
Congressional District: 3

What's New?

Updated May 2011

The second five-year review of the Smeltertown Superfund Site was signed on September 9, 2010. The results of this second five-year review indicate that all immediate risks at the site have been addressed, and the remedy is protective of human health and the environment. Long-term protectiveness is to be verified by:

  • Continuing routine groundwater monitoring to evaluate the potential migration of contaminants of concern.
  • Periodic inspection of the cap integrity to minimize rain and snow from infiltrating the cap and leaching buried soil contaminants into the groundwater.
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of implemented institutional controls, or regulations that restrict development, use of the land and groundwater.

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Site Description

The site is situated in the Arkansas River Valley approximately two miles upstream of Salida, Colorado, and comprises approximately 120 acres. The Arkansas River, bordered by a steep vegetated bluff, flows southeast along the west side of the site and then turns to the east along the south side of the site. An old slag deposit is located 45 vertical feet down the bluff face and runs approximately 1,600 feet along the east side of the Arkansas River bank. The site was proposed to the National Priorities List, but the listing was not finalized. Smeltertown has been divided into three operable units (OUs), which are directly associated with contaminants linked to past industrial practices that occurred at the site.

historical 365-foot smelting stack
The historical 365-foot smelting stack

The central portion of the site has been identified as OU1. It includes contamination from a former lead, copper, silver and gold smelter which operated from 1902 to 1919. During the operations, wastes were deposited in the smelter area or dumped along the banks of the Arkansas River. Ultimately, the site was cleared of all but three structures: two buildings and a 365-foot smokestack. The smokestack was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is currently an attraction for tourists.

The western portion of the site, identified as OU2, includes contamination from a series of railroad tie-treating companies from 1924 to 1953. Treating operations included a pressure treating retort, drip racks, storage tanks, pole plant and lagoons. In the retort building, railroad ties and other lumber products were pressure-treated with creosote in steel cylinders. Creosote and possibly pentachlorophenol were allowed to drip onto the ground after the lumber was treated. From sources in the process area and lagoons, wood treating constituents moved downward through the ground and into the groundwater. Dissolved wood treating constituents moved in the direction of groundwater flow to the south towards the Arkansas River bluff. The property changed hands several times and was redeveloped as a sand and gravel quarry by Butala Construction Company in 1965.

The southeastern portion of the site, identified as OU3, was formerly occupied by the now-defunct Colorado Zinc Company. This facility manufactured zinc sulfate soil amendment/animal feed. From 1993 to 1996, nearby residents were provided bottled water because of zinc-contaminated water. By February 1996, permanent alternative water supplies were provided by installing new wells and permanent water treatment systems. Responsibility for the OU was transferred to the state RCRA program between 1996 and 1998.

Map of Operable Units and Institutional Controls boundaries, February 15, 2012

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Site Risk

Three different industrial activities—smelting, wood treating and zinc-sulfate manufacturing—left contamination on 120 acres bordering the scenic Arkansas River in a rural area near Salida, Colorado. State and federal agencies are working to clean up the site with each of the companies responsible for the contamination.

groundwater, soil, surface water, solid waste

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
groundwater, soil, surface water, solid waste arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, zinc, pentachlorophenol, creosote smelting, wood-treating, zinc-sulfate manufacturing

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Cleanup Progress

OU1: Remedial action for OU1 is defined in Removal Action No. 6 (Action Memorandum dated September 27, 1996). Remedial construction for this OU (smelter wastes and contaminated soil) was completed in April 2004. The OU1 remedy consisted of:

  • Consolidating demolition debris, wastes and associated contaminated soils within a 4.7-acre (approx) waste consolidated area, which was then capped with 24 inches of clay and growth medium and planted with a seed mix appropriate for the site.
  • Access controls – fencing and signage.
  • Institutional controls – prohibition of (1) residential use of the entire 10-acre parcel; (2) drilling, excavating or re-contouring the cap, which may damage or interfere with its integrity, create erosion or sliding problems or otherwise interfere with the flow of water through drainage channels.
  • Groundwater monitoring.

OU2: The Record of Decision (ROD) for OU2 was issued on June 4, 1998. Remedial construction for this OU (soil contaminated with wood-treating chemicals) was completed in May 2002. Work included:

  • Placing near-surface contaminated soil in the waste consolidated area at OU1 along with contaminated soil and other materials from OU1 and offsite locations.
  • Access controls – a 6-foot cyclone fence around one hillside spring with a locked access gate.
  • Institutional controls - prohibition of (1) residential development; (2) mining in the Mining Restricted Area; (3) mining deeper than 20 feet in the Mining Buffer Area; (4) wells or drilling to any groundwater or aquifer within the Mining Restricted Area or the Mining Buffer Area (except for monitoring or remedial wells); (5) wells or drilling within the Groundwater Buffer Area (except for monitoring or remedial wells); and, (6) use of groundwater within the Upper Terrace Aquifer or the Lower Terrace Aquifer as a drinking water supply.
  • groundwater monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the remedy over the long-term and to ensure no further migration of contaminants.

OU3: The southeastern portion of the site, identified as OU3, was formerly occupied by the now-defunct Colorado Zinc Company. OU3 has been cleaned up and closed under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action orders issued by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and removed from the Superfund site.

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Community Involvement

Community involvement plays an important role in the Superfund process. EPA uses a number of different tools and resources to promote effective, on-going, meaningful community involvement. The goals of the Superfund community involvement program are to:

  • Keep communities affected by sites informed throughout the cleanup process
  • Provide opportunities for communities to comment and offer their input about site cleanup plans
  • Facilitate the resolution of community issues tied to a site

EPA, via a public notice, asks for public comment during the five-year review. Public comment was solicited for the second five-year review completed in September 2010. EPA and CDPHE are monitoring the site to ensure that the potentially responsible parties (PRPs)—Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. (OU1) and Beazer East (OU2)—properly manage and maintain the cleanup remedies.

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Reuse

historical 365-foot smelting stack

EPA places a high priority on land reuse as part of its Superfund response program mission. The agency tries to select cleanup options that encourage and support future use of a site. We use two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

  • Exploring future uses before the cleanup remedy is implemented, an approach that gives the agency the best chance of designing cleanup remedies to support the likely future use of a site.
  • Working with landowners and communities to remove barriers not considered necessary for the protection of human health or the environment at those sites where remedies are already in place.

One option for reuse is the siting of clean and renewable energy projects on contaminated (or formerly contaminated) lands. As part of this effort, EPA is evaluating the potential for energy projects on these properties and working with landowners and communities to identify ways to remove barriers to such projects.

Butala Construction Company operates a sand and gravel quarry on the property. Additionally, the 365-foot smokestack was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is currently an attraction for tourists.

Smeltertown: Reuse Fact Sheet, March 2013

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Land Use Controls and Other Institutional Controls

Land use controls are the most common type of institutional control (IC). ICs are administrative or legal controls that help reduce the likelihood for human exposure to contamination. ICs can also help protect the integrity of the remedy. Examples of ICs are:

  • Zoning ordinances
  • Environmental covenants
  • Deed notices
  • Well-drilling restrictions
  • Building permits
  • Informational advisories

Institutional controls at OU1, filed on November 21, 2001, and amended on September 13, 2004, prohibit (1) residential use of the entire 10-acre parcel; and (2) drilling, excavating or re-contouring of the waste consolidation cap, which may damage or interfere with its integrity, create erosion or sliding problems or otherwise interfere with the flow of water through drainage channels.

Institutional controls at OU2, filed on September 29, 2000, prohibit (1) residential development; (2) mining in the mining restricted area; (3) mining deeper than 20 feet in the mining buffer area; (4) wells or drilling to any groundwater or aquifer within the mining restricted area or the mining buffer area; (5) wells or drilling within the groundwater buffer area; and (6) use of groundwater within the upper terrace aquifer or the lower terrace aquifer as a drinking water supply.

Map of Operable Units and Institutional Controls boundaries, February 15, 2012

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Five-Year Reviews

EPA or the lead agency conducts five-year reviews following the start of a Superfund cleanup when contamination is left on the site. These reviews are repeated every five years. We use these reviews to determine:

  • How the remedy is working.
  • If the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.

The second five-year review was completed on September 9, 2010. The results of this second five-year review indicate that all immediate risks at the site have been addressed and the remedy is protective of human health and the environment. Long-term protectiveness is to be verified by continuing routine groundwater monitoring to evaluate the potential migration of contaminants of concern, periodic inspection of the cap and the review of implemented institutional controls. The next five-year review will be completed by September 2015.

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Site Documents

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.Update to the Five-Year Review, January 2013

Second Five-Year Review Report, September 2010

OU1 Final Removal Action Close Out Report, March 2004

OU2 Record of Decision (ROD) (PDF), June 4, 1998(158 pp, 236K)

OU1 Action Memorandum, September 27, 1996

Institutional Controls documents for OU1:

Institutional Controls documents for OU2:


Contacts

EPA

Kerri Fiedler
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8 (EPR-SR)
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129
303-312-6493
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6493 (toll free Region 8 only)
fiedler.kerri@epa.gov

Site Information Repositories:

Salida Regional Library
405 E Street
Salida, CO 81201-2633
719-539-4826
M-F, 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
HMWMD Records Center
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, Colorado 80246-1530
303-692-3331
888-569-1831 ext. 3331 (toll free)
303-759-5355 FAX
comments.hmwmd@state.co.us
By appointment only

EPA Superfund Records Center
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129
To request copies of administrative record documents call:
303-312-7273
800-227-8917 ext. 312-7273 (toll free Region 8 only)

CDPHE

Craig Gander
State Project Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Hazardous Material and Waste Management Division
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530
303-692-3449
888-569-1831 ext. 3449 (toll free)
craig.gander@state.co.us

Warren Smith
Community Relations Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
303-692-3373
888-569-1831 ext. 3373 (toll free)
warren.smith@state.co.us

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Photo/Video Gallery

Click on a thumbnail below to view the full size image.

Site is located along the banks of the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
Groundwater monitoring wells
Waste consolidation area
Old slag deposit
Current operations
Current operations
Restricted access gates and signs
Ponds adjacent to the Arkansas River
Site is located along the Arkansas River

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Links

ATSDR Public Health Assessment for the Smeltertown Site, March 5, 1995

Salida Regional Library Exit

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