The federal Environmental Protection Agency and Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality broke ground in Stockton on Thursday Sept. 22.
Not for a new building, but in a field south of Silver Avenue where the agencies are removing approximately 73,000 tons of lead and arsenic contaminated soil.
“The contaminated soil presents a risk to people, especially children, and pets,” said Kim Shelley, Utah DEQ director, who joined regional EPA administrator KC Becker for a media event at the site on Friday.
Shelley went to explain that the clean up site sits between two residential developments in an area that has become popular for ATV riding.
“This project will benefit the people that ive, work and recreate in Stockton,” she said.
The clean up was funded by $12 million from a $1 billion investment included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country.
The clean up is part of what the EPA calls the Jacobs Smelter site which has been on the Superfund Clean up list since February of 2000, according to Becker.
The environmental risks posed by the site derive from smelting and mining activity, which occurred primarily in the 1860s and 1870s. The area to be cleaned up is about 100 acres off of Silver Avenue between the B&B and Rawhide subdivisions where the Waterman Smelter sat.
Clean Harbors will excavate the contaminated soil, which will vary in depth from 6 niches to 114 inches deep. Some of the soil has a low enough contamination level that it can be disposed of in the Tooele County landfill. The majority of the soil will be taken to Clean Harbors’ Grassy Mountain Landfill near Clive.
If piled on a football field and flattened on the top, the extracted contaminated solid would make a mound over 30 feet high.
Excavation and backfilling at the sire is expected to run through December 2022. The work will stop for the winter and resume in the spring of 2023 with remediation including the placing of topsoil, revegetation, and irrigation. The conclusion of the cleanup and remediation is set for September 2023.
The Waterman Smelter area is the last location in the Jacobs Smelter Superfund Site with hazardous exposure.
Clean up has been completed for other sites including contaminated soil in Stockton in 1999 and removal of contaminated soil in the Rawhide Ranchettes subdivision.
The Union Pacific Railroad completed cleanup along the rail line in the town of Stockton.
Kennecott Utah Copper, now Rio Tinto, completed a cleanup of land adjacent to the Rawhide Ranchettes subdivision.