Concentrations of trichloroethene were detected at levels 360 times above the federal limit around the defunct Cotter Corp. mill outside Canon City, the Denver Post said Sunday.
Regulators told the newspaper the contamination has thus far been found only in the general groundwater. "It's not in the public drinking water supply that we know of," said Jeanine Natterman, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Documents said Cotter's parent company, General Atomics, planned to begin a groundwater sampling project in May to determine the exact extent of the problem.
But residents of the area told the Post they have known that the old mill was a problem for a long time. The trichloroethene was likely used in the 1980s to remove PCBs from the site.
"Nothing surprises me anymore," said Sharyn Cunningham, 64, who lives 1 1/2 miles from the mill and co-chairs Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste.
""This year, I'm not doing any gardening," Cunningham said. "They've been doing demolition out there, and I don't trust the soils anymore."