The Environmental Protection Agency is targeting a Utah smelter for cleanup with money from the recently approved bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The funds will be used for the removal of approximately 70,000 tons of lead- and arsenic-contaminated surface and subsurface soils, from old mining operations at Waterman Smelter, which is located 38 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The Tooele County site will be one of 49 sites that will receive $1B in investment to accelerate cleanup at dozens other sites across the country.
Kim Shelley is the executive director of Utah Department of Environmental Quality. She stated that cleanup of Jacobs site was long overdue. The cleanup of the Jacobs site dates back over 20 years.
The funding will enable us to better protect Stockton’s environment and health, while also providing the opportunity for the Stockton community to benefit from the benefits of the funding. Jacobs Smelter Superfund siteShe said that she was getting closer to completion. This funding fulfills an important cleanup requirement and comes at a crucial moment when we were previously unable or unwilling to secure funding through a highly-competitive priority process.
Utah will receive the money via a cooperative agreement from EPA to complete the cleanup activities. Once groundwork is completed, they are expected to be finished in a year or 18 months.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R. Utah, who helped negotiate a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package applauded the EPA announcement.
This legislation will allow us to provide long-needed resources for communities like Stockton that have been waiting funding to address environmental or health problems caused by contaminated land, he stated in a statement.
Romney, the Utah’s only all-Republican member of the congressional delegation, voted for the bill. He said that it would better position Utah to address transportation challenges, mitigate drought conditions and prepare for wildfires, extend broadband access to rural communities, and meet critical water requirements.
Stockton Mayor Thomas Karjola stated that this is a huge victory for the safety, health, and well-being of Stockton residents. He thanked Romney and the Tooele County Council for including the project in the bill.
In 1980, Congress passed Superfund, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
The law gave EPA authority and funds to hold polluters liable for cleaning up the most contaminated areas in the country. Congress can use funds if there is no responsible party or they are unable to pay for the cleanup. The Superfund Trust Fund was funded by a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries. This tax was in effect until 1995.
The infrastructure bill restored the chemical excise tax and invested $3.5 billion in environmental remediation of Superfund sites. It is the largest American investment to address legacy pollution that threatens the public’s health.