The long environmental cleanup at the former Martha Rose Walsh Smelter site near the entrance to Silverton is complete, San Juan County officials say.
Project Manager Marcie Bidwell of SWCA Environmental Consultants of Durango told county officials in a letter that soils on the property now meet Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health standards for residential housing, construction and open space, and exceed those standards in most areas that were tested.
The county-owned site is slated for development as a workforce housing subdivision.
County officials expressed relief that the cleanup, which became much more extensive than originally envisioned, is behind them.
“We’re hoping Phase 2 will go a lot smoother than Phase I did,” said County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman. “We’ll have this one planned out better.”
Phase 2 will involve filling the huge holes left after the cleanup and installing infrastructure for the proposed subdivision.
The 16 acres at the former Walsh Smelter site was acquired by the county six years ago from George Lancaster for $280,000.
Subsequent testing revealed that the site was contaminated by years of industrial use.
Some $1.2 million has been spent on a cleanup of the site, with most of that covered by state and federal grants.
The county has also received a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Brownfields Foundation to fill the large holes that were excavated this summer to remove contaminated material. That material now sits in a capped repository and berm along U.S. 550.