Archive for June, 2016

Life in the Eilers Superfund Site

As I recently stated, I am suspending the part of this site that deals with good memories and replacing it with sad, scary truth.  This is the first part of my final crusade.  I’ve fought hard over something as stupid as what my neighborhood was called.  Imagine how hard I’ll fight for a matter of life and death.  Dramatic, you say?  Hang on.  It’s a horror movie.

 

If you are not aware of the Eilers Superfund Site, I’ll give you a bit of background.  The area is on the southeast side of Pueblo, near the steel mill.  It includes parts of Bessemer, a bit of the Grove, and the neighborhood formerly known as Bojon Town, now known as Eilers Heights.  In the late 1800’s, it was the site of the Colorado Smelter, a large smelter used to process silver.  When the silver industry slowed down, the smelter closed, and the owners sold the land as home sites to individual homeowners.  The area was a very nice area, and back then, no one really thought about the dangers of building a home on a toxic waste dump.  And don’t fool yourself.  This place is a toxic waste dump.  The EPA has admitted it to the point that they are doing cleanups on this area that they haven’t done at any other Superfund site.  They are scaring the crap out of the residents about the levels of lead and arsenic levels, but if you know the government, they don’t do extraordinary things unless something extraordinary is going on.  There’s something that they’re not telling us, and given their record of handling this problem, anything is possible.

 

They are telling the residents that children can be harmed from exposure to this problem, and now something needs to be done immediately.  Well, excuse my Slovenian, but where the hell were you sorry son of a bitches when this neighborhood was full of Slovenian kids?  Kids like me.  Kids that have so many health problems that they pray every morning for it to get better or just let it end.  It may sound like I’m kind of pissed lately.  It’s probably because I’m pissed.  I can’t make it through 3 hours of light activity without ending up unconscious for 3 hours after I’m done.  I’m getting veins in my heart frozen to keep it from screwing up.  I’m having afib and seizures at the same time.  I’ve got a neuromuscular disease and glaucoma, and on top of that, I’m not that good looking.  I have a right to get pissed.  And I’m better off than a lot of people I know.  My Grandma Medved grew up in the middle of this chemical cesspool, and they started hacking cancerous parts off of her when I was 10 years old, and they didn’t stop until she died.  Both of my grandfathers had cancer.  Not too many in that neighborhood died of old age.  Some ugly crap killed them first.  And the EPA told us all to go to hell, because the real problem is the kids living there now.  Well, I’m the kid that used to live there and I want some justice.  For my grandma and grandpas.  For the neighbors that died of cancer.  The ones that died of crap that they didn’t have a name for.  For the old people still sick and trying to make it.  For my mom, who was a walking encyclopedia of shitty medical conditions.  This is just a start of the war for me.  It took me 4 times longer to write this than it would have 2 years ago.  But I will not stop and I will not shut up.  I’m sending letters to politicians, who just use this crap for a way to sucker in an extra vote or two.  I’m sending them to newspapers, magazines, TV stations, whoever will listen, and even those who won’t listen.  I’m about to become someone’s pain in the ass.

 

I’m going to ask for some help.  I’m starting to compile a database of everyone that lived in this area, worked in this area, or went to school in this area for at least 5 years, and any unusual medical conditions that they may have had.  If this is you, or a relative, or a deceased loved one, please help me.  I’m going to be working hard on this.  Whatever it takes.  I’m still going to use this site temporarily, until I can find another site that works better.  I will be posting more information in the near future.  Please email me if you’d like.  Thanks.

It’s a Wrap!

I’ve been doing this for a while now.  Not as much anymore.  Not at all in the future.  This is my last post here.  It’s been tough for me to come to grips with, but I think I finally got it straight in my mind.

 

Bojon Town isn’t a place.  It’s a time.  It’s the past, a past that I miss more and more each day.  But that time has passed.  I realized it a while back, but I found it tough to admit it to myself.  My Bojon Town died, and has been replaced with something that sort of looks like the place I remember.  It took a major slap in the face for me to admit it, and it happened in the oddest way.

 

Last week, my wife and I went to a Pho restaurant in Pueblo West.  It was early, and there was only us and one other table, and at that table were Pam and Joe Kocman.  Pam and I have had some differences over the Bojon Town/Eilers Heights thing, and I took it too far.  I was never mad at her personally, but I probably said some hurtful things and it always kind of hangs in the background whenever we talk.  She asked me if I’d be interested in attending a meeting of the Eilers Heights Neighborhood Association at St. Mary’s School.  I’ve been wanting to fix things with her, and I really like going into the old school once in a while, so I told her I’d be there.

 

Due to a scheduling conflict, that meeting was cancelled, because the EPA scheduled a meeting concerning the status of the Superfund site designation.  My dad is square in the middle of that mess, so I went with him.  There are 1900 residences in the area that is designated as the Superfund site, which is the former Smelter that turned a few square miles of beautiful land into a toxic waste dump.  Out of the 1900 homes, about 200 have agreed to have the EPA test the yards and in some cases, the houses, for lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals.  19 of the 200 tested homeowners have agreed to have the EPA come in and clean up their houses and yards.  My dad is one of them.  His house and yard are so contaminated that they are putting him in a hotel for 5 days, and treating his house like a hazardous materials spill.  They are paying for everything, including new carpeting.  They may also dig out a few feet of soil from his yard and replace it with new topsoil and re-landscape it.  The government is taking this very seriously, and this is the first time that the EPA has ever paid to clean the insides of homes in a Superfund site.

 

They are terrified that the children in those affected houses are going to be exposed to a variety of health issues from living in these places, 100 years after the ground was polluted.  My question is “Where were they 50, 60, 75 years ago, when the pollution was even more concentrated, and I and people my age were playing in the slag dumps and climbing in these dirt piles”???????  They didn’t warn us at all.  Why now?  Well, the meeting that I went to kind of gives me a clue as to why now.  I walked into a room at the library where over 100 residents of Eilers Heights (I will no longer refer to that neighborhood as Bojon Town) were seated, and I recognized my dad and 3 other people.  They had a table in the back where you could get a set of headphones to listen to a Spanish translation of the meeting.  I know this will come off wrong to someone, but the hell with it.  I just realized that my past died, and I don’t really give a  crap that much.  In my version of that neighborhood, which obviously no longer exists, no one needed a translator.  Not the Bojons, not the Italians, not the Mexicans, no one.  Because we all spoke English outside of our house.  We may have spoken Slovenian, Italian or Spanish at home, but when we met as a community, we spoke English.  I don’t want to sound racist, but when people assimilate into a community, the community obviously works better.  There is no argument on this.  Not on my blog, anyway.

 

I listened to a few of the questions, and the people aren’t the people I knew.  They were rude, they were self-serving, and they obviously gave zero of a shit about the neighborhood past their property line, and most of them don’t really care about the property either.  Take a ride through that neighborhood.  There are maybe two dozen nice houses, and the rest are shitholes.  And the shitholes are next to the nice houses, so those poor people get to live next to these scumbags like that asshole that live at 1205 Bohmen, next to my dad.  The place looks worse that the dump, and the worthless city just turns a blind eye to it.  There have been at least 3 meth busts in the neighborhood in the last year, with weapons and huge amounts of cash being seized.  I’ve faced it.  It’s a slum and it ain’t going to get better until it gets worse.  It’s no longer worth writing about, and it’s not worth reading about either.  I’m 60 years old.  I’ve been fighting a medical condition for 40 years.  In the last 2 years, I’ve been also diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, seizures, something called a complex sleeping disorder, glaucoma, and some other things I can’t even remember.  Maybe if the EPA was around 50 years ago to clean the lead and arsenic out of my mom and dad’s house, I might not be in this nightmare.  Sucks to find out that the place you write about so fondly is actually a toxic waste dump.

 

 
To the good residents of Eilers Heights, good luck and my God help you out with this mess.  To the people that are ruining it, do us a favor and move out.  Or die.  It matters little to me.  To the people that humored the meanderings of a sad old man for these last few years, thank you.  Thanks for giving up your time to read my words, and thanks for the kind things that you all say.  Thanks to those of you that are part of these memories, those that helped me to be able to be here to remind you of how good we had it in that time when we made these memories.  I’ll be writing, but it will not be here.  This place is officially closed.