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EPA adds U.S. Magnesium to Superfund site list

Release Date: 11/02/2009
Contact Information: Gwen Christiansen, 303-312-6463, christiansen.gwen@epa.gov; Jennifer Chergo, 303-312-6601, chergo.jennifer@epa.gov

EPA adds U.S. Magnesium to Superfund site list

Listing makes cleanup of Tooele County facility a high priority

(Denver, Colo. -- November 2, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), today announced it has added U.S. Magnesium, LLC, in Tooele County, Utah, to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites.

Listing U.S. Magnesium on the NPL makes the cleanup of the site a high priority nationally. It also enables EPA and UDEQ to use Superfund authority under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act to initiate and oversee the cleanup of the site. Sites listed on the NPL are among the nation’s most contaminated places.

“The benefits of this designation extend well beyond the boundaries of the U.S. Magnesium facility,” said Gwen Christiansen, EPA’s NPL Coordinator in Denver. “The removal and containment of site contaminants will reduce health risks for those that work in the area, and will directly benefit wildlife, water quality and the overall health of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.”

The U.S. Magnesium site spans 4,525 acres on the southwest edge of the Great Salt Lake, 40 miles from Salt Lake City. Brine from the lake has been used to produce magnesium at the site since 1972, a process that has produced a variety of toxic wastes that threaten both workers and the environment.

Contaminants at the site include heavy metals, acidic wastewater, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These contaminants pose cancerous and non-cancerous health risks to humans and wildlife and have been released into the air, soil, surface water and groundwater.

Dioxin, PCBs and HCB are present at levels that potentially pose health risks to workers throughout the site. Birds have been regularly observed in contact with or near contaminated areas on the site. Observations indicate that many waterfowl die after coming into contact with the contamination. Bird egg studies have also documented concentrations of PCB and HCB in all eggs at or near the site. In the past, high water levels in the Great Salt Lake have flooded the site creating an open conduit for contaminants to travel into the lake.

U.S. Magnesium is now eligible for extensive, long-term cleanup using the Superfund process and federal cleanup dollars while EPA seeks to recover costs from responsible parties. The listing also guarantees public participation in cleanup decisions and enables the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to initiate a Health Assessment in the area.

More information about the site can be obtained by visiting the following Website: http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/ut/usmagnesium

Or, by viewing records at the following locations:

U.S. EPA, Region 8
Superfund Records Center
595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202

UDEQ
Records Center
168 N. 1950 W.
Bldg. 2, 1st Fl.
Box 144840
Salt Lake City, UT 84116