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EPA proposes adding U.S. Magnesium to Superfund site list

Release Date: 09/03/2008
Contact Information: Gwen Christiansen, 303-312-6463, christiansen.gwen@epa.gov Jennifer Chergo, 303-312-6601, chergo.jennifer@epa.gov

Listing on NPL would make cleanup at U.S. Magnesium a high priority

(Denver, Colo. -- September 3, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), today announced its proposal to add U.S. Magnesium, LLC, in Tooele County, Utah, to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. Today’s announcement, which is being published in the Federal Register, begins a sixty-day public comment period on the proposed listing.


If EPA finalizes the proposed listing of U.S. Magnesium, it would make the cleanup of this site a high priority nationally and would enable the EPA and UDEQ to use Superfund authorities to oversee the cleanup of the site. Sites listed on the NPL are among the nation’s most contaminated places.


"EPA and the State of Utah are committed to ensuring that the contamination is addressed and wastes are disposed of in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment," said Gwen Christiansen, EPA NPL Coordinator in Region 8.


Once proposed on the NPL, the Utah Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will start a health assessment process. The health department will be assessing available data and making recommendations for further actions. They will assess past, current and future exposure and determine any possible adverse health effects for those populations that have been exposed (i.e., workers, residents in surrounding neighborhoods, etc.). Upon completion of these analyses, documents will be written summarizing results and further recommendations and a health education campaign will follow.


Listing on the NPL would make U.S. Magnesium eligible for extensive, long-term cleanup using the Superfund process; make the site eligible for federal funds for cleanup while EPA seeks to recover costs from identified responsible parties; and would guarantee the public an opportunity to participate in cleanup decisions.


The site spans 4,525 acres on the southwest edge of the Great Salt Lake, 40 miles from Salt Lake City. The site has housed magnesium production since 1972, using brine from the Great Salt Lake as the raw material and producing a variety of wastes. There are uncontrolled wastes on the property which investigations show are threatening the health of 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 indoor workers throughout the site. Blood testing of workers in 2002 and in 2004 found elevated levels of dioxin and HCB as compared to the general population of the United States.


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 documented concentrations of PCB and HCB in all eggs at or near the site. Additionally, in the past the lake’s water level rose and flooded the site creating an open conduit for contaminants to travel into the Great Salt Lake.


More information about the site can be obtained by visiting the following Web site:

www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/ut/usmagnesium


Or, by viewing records at the following locations:


U.S. EPA, Region 8

Superfund Records Center

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO 80202


UDEQ

Records Center

168 N. 1950 W.

Bldg. 2, 1st Floor

Box 144840

Salt Lake City, UT 84116


The public comment period on this proposal is open from September 3 to November 3, 2008.


Those interested in commenting on the proposed NPL listing can submit comments on-line at
www.regulations.gov identified by FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0584.

Send comments in writing identified by FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0584 addressed to:


Docket Coordinator, Headquarters

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

CERCLA Docket Office (Mail Code 5305T)

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20460

202-566-0276