Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate 70 Superfund Site

Vasquez Boulevard Community Advisory Group

Upcoming CAG meeting

To be arranged.

For many decades, the Globeville, Elyria-Swansea communities have been impacted by several sources of pollution, one of which is historic smelting in the area. Although the smelters shut down many years ago, we are still working to clean up the pollution they left behind in the soil. Parts of the neighborhood have been designated as the Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate-70 Superfund Site, which allows the Environmental Protection Agency to identify responsible parties, collect money and clean up the contamination left by these smelters.

The 4.5-square-mile area is in the north-central section of the city and county of Denver, Colorado. Historically, the area was a major smelting center in the western United States.

Beginning as early as the 1870s, two smelting plants – Omaha & Grant and Argo – operated at the site. They refined gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc until the early 1900s, when operations ceased. Operations deposited heavy metals in area soils and contaminated groundwater at the smelter locations. 

After the discovery of site contamination, EPA listed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in July 1999. To manage site investigations and cleanup, EPA divided the site into three operable units (OUs). OU1 is residential soils. OU2 is the former Omaha & Grant smelter site. OU3 is the former Argo Smelter site.

OU1 included all or part of five neighborhoods –Cole, Clayton, Elyria-Swansea, southwest Globeville and Curtis Park. OU1 included residential yards in the site area where levels of lead and/or arsenic in soil presented an unacceptable risk to human health. There were about 4,500 residential properties in OU1, most of which were single-family homes.

EPA sampled 99 percent of residential properties in OU1 and removed contaminated soil from about 800 of those that needed it. Contaminated soil was removed to a depth of 12 inches and replaced with clean soil. EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment deleted OU1 from the National Priorities List in September 2019.

The current Superfund program focus is on the highly industrialized area Operable Unit 2. This area includes part of the National Western Stockshow and the Denver Coliseum. There are no residences in this area. 

A Community Advisory Group (CAG) can assist the community in understanding the multi-phase Superfund process, what contaminants are addressed, and the timeline for cleanup. The cleanup process is technical and can take a long time, so the Community Advisory Group meetings are a great way for the community to learn more and stay up to date about what is happening. These meetings provide space for you to voice your concerns about the cleanup and engage with agency representatives from the CDPHE and the EPA. 

Community Advisory Group YouTube page

Gardening safely in the Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate 70 area. April 2020 (En inglés y español)

Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate 70 vicinity map

EPA Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate 70 site information

Important documents

Search environmental records online

Many of these documents are technical and not available in a language other than English. If you would like to discuss a topic with an interpreter present, please contact Jeannine in your preferred language and she will get back to you with an interpreter to meet your needs.
Jeannine Natterman
303-692-3303 888-569-1831, extension 3303