Taxpayers have to maintain Departments of Environmental Quality to keep mining pollution at bay—
Agreement Reached on Kennecott Groundwater Cleanup
( Salt Lake City , Utah ) – Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation will continue to clean up a 20-square-mile section of groundwater under an agreement filed today in Utah District Court by the company, the state of Utah and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Today's agreement formalizes a consent decree between the parties which requires Kennecott to extract groundwater from the core portion of the contaminated area by shrinking its size, preventing contamination from spreading and intercepting and collecting runoff waters.
In a joint announcement, The Utah Attorney General's Office and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) praised the agreement.
“This agreement is the result of a partnership effort that culminates with a consent decree that allows EPA and the DEQ to ensure this remedy is implemented by Kennecott,” said DEQ Executive Director Rick Sprott.
“People who live near or around this area deserve to know that everything possible is being done to make sure the water is clean and that the area will not be contaminated. This agreement will help make that possible,” said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
In 1995, Utah and Kennecott entered into a consent decree to resolve damages to groundwater in the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley . Kennecott paid damages in the amount of $9 million in cash for damages and placed a $28 million line of credit into a trust fund to be used for groundwater treatment.
By 2004, the total value of the funds had grown to $62.5 million. The state approved a joint proposal from Kennecott and the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District to use the funds to build two water treatment plants to supply the communities in the affected area with drinking water.
The proposed consent decree will still need to be finalized by state and federal agencies but Kennecott plans to continue the remedy work it has been doing for the past 15 years. Specifically, Kennecott, with primary oversight by the state and review by EPA , will be required to continue implementing the following:
Operate and maintain source controls to keep further contamination from occurring.
Continue pumping out the groundwater acid plume in the amount of 1200 acre feet per year.
Operate a barrier well system to keep contamination from spreading.
Provide financial assurance in the amount of $15 million to insure continuation of the remedy work.
Pay $5 million as reimbursement of EPA response costs (including reimbursement for State funding paid by EPA ).
Pay significant stipulated penalties if Kennecott fails to perform its obligations under the Consent Decree.
The proposed consent decree will be subject to a 30 day public comment period, after which EPA and the state will evaluate the comments and determine whether or not to finalize the decree. A copy of the consent decree, and details and deadlines for comments, are available at http://www.deq.utah.gov/Issues/nrd/index.htm