For Immediate Release
|FORMAT FOR PRINTING
AGREEMENT REACHED ON KENNECOTT GROUNDWATER CLEANUP
Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation will continue to clean up a 20-square-mile section of groundwater under an agreement filed today in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City by the company, the state of Utah and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Today’s agreement formalizes a consent decree between the parties which requires Kennecott to extract groundwater from the core portion of the contaminated area by shrinking its size, preventing contamination from spreading and intercepting and collecting runoff waters.
In a joint announcement, the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) praised the agreement.
“This agreement is the result of a partnership effort that culminates with a consent decree that allows EPA and the DEQ to ensure this remedy is implemented by Kennecott,” said DEQ Executive Director Rick Sprott
“People who live near or around this area deserve to know that everything possible is being done to make sure the water is clean and that the area will not be recontaminated. This agreement will help make that possible,” said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
In 1995, Utah and Kennecott entered into a consent decree to resolve damages to groundwater in the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley. Kennecott paid $9 million in cash for damages and placed a $28 million line of credit into a trust fund to be used for groundwater treatment.
By 2004, the total value of the funds had grown to $62.5 million. The state approved a joint proposal from Kennecott and the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District to use the funds to build two water treatment plants to supply the communities in the affected area with drinking water.
The proposed consent decree will still need to be finalized by state and federal agencies but Kennecott plans to continue the remedy work it has been doing for the past 15 years. Specifically, Kennecott will be required to continue doing the following:
1. Operate and maintain source controls to keep further contamination from occurring.
2. Continue pumping out groundwater acid at the rate of 1200 acre feet per year.
3. Operate a barrier well system to keep contamination from spreading.
4. Provide $15 million to insure continuation of the work.
5. Pay $5 million to reimburse the response costs of the EPA.
6. Pay significant penalties if Kennecott fails to perform its obligations.
The proposed consent decree will be subject to a 30 day public comment period, after which EPA and Utah will evaluate the comments and determine whether or not to finalize the decree. A copy of the consent decree and details and deadlines for comments are available at http://www.deq.utah.gov/Issues/nrd/index.htm.