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EPA orders US Magnesium to address acid spill near Rowley, Utah facility

Release Date: 02/25/2014
Contact Information: Aaron Urdiales, 303-312-6844, urdiales.aaron@epa.gov; Jennifer Chergo, 303-312-6601, chergo.jennifer@epa.gov

(Denver, Colo. -- February 21, 2014) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Magnesium LLC (USM) voluntarily entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC). The AOC provides that USM address a release of acidic liquid waste from the magnesium production facility onto its own and adjacent U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property.

On January 23, 2014, USM reported to the EPA National Response Center a release of acidic liquid onto federal property. The release consisted of approximately 8,000 pounds of hydrochloric acid into an unlined retention pond, and a portion was spilled over to adjacent USM and BLM land. EPA staff traveled to the site to assess the situation. BLM staff verbally notified area land users, including those with cattle grazing permits on the BLM land.

The spill area is remote. However, people who hunt or recreate in the area, as well as wildlife, and livestock in the area could be at risk. Contacting, inhaling, or ingesting acidic water or vapor can cause moderate to severe harm. The AOC provides for actions necessary to protect human health and the environment at the spill site.

The AOC details a three-phased action plan to address the spill. In summary, the first phase is to immediately fence the portion of the spill on BLM land. The fencing will be posted with warning signs every 150 feet. The second phase requires USM to describe how they plan to control access to the portion of the spill area on their property and what measures they plan to address the cause of the release. The third phase requires USM to address the acidic water release, and if necessary, the soils impacted underneath. The company will also be required to prepare a contingency plan applicable to any such future release.

This AOC is being issued by EPA under the authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), section 7003. The USM facility produces magnesium using an anhydrous electrolytic production process. In addition to magnesium metal and alloys, the facility produces chlorine, ferric and ferrous chloride, and calcium chloride, and is producing or has produced other materials as well. The main raw material is concentrated brine form the Great Salt Lake.