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State and local agencies support EPA involvement in east side springs PCE plume site | Environment

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State and local agencies support EPA involvement in east side springs PCE plume site

This is a press release from The Official City Government Website of Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY – Mayor Ralph Becker, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality have issued formal support for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to list a contaminated site in Salt Lake City on the agency’s National Priority List.
 
In August 2010, Salt Lake City discovered low levels of the chemical perchloroethene, or PCE, in surface water springs located between 800 South and 1000 South, and between 1300 East and 1100 East.  While Salt Lake City’s public drinking water supply is not connected to or affected by these springs, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) along with the EPA were immediately engaged to  conduct an investigation to identify the source of the contamination and potential risks to the community.  
 
The EPA and UDEQ published a report of their findings in May 2012.  The report confirmed the presence of PCE in surface water springs, and concluded that it is likely connected to a previously identified PCE groundwater plume located more than 100 feet below ground surface near 700 South and 1600 East. This plume was originally discovered in the 1990s when PCE was discovered in an irrigationwell at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
 
Previous UDEQ and EPA investigations indicated that while PCE was found in deep groundwater, no PCE was detected in surface water springs in the city. At that time there did not appear to be any means for people in the community to come in contact with PCE in the relatively deep groundwater.  As a precaution, Salt Lake City removed its drinking water well in the vicinity of this PCE plume fromservice.
 
The full extent of the 700 South 1600 East PCE plume is still unknown, but with the recent discovery of the contaminated springs, the site appears to cover approximately 300 acres.  Left uncontrolled, it now appears the PCE plume could continue to migrate.  For these reasons, Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality believe that conditions have changed significantly towarrant a more rigorous investigation defining the extent of the PCE plume and its risks to human health and the environment, followed by appropriate remedial action and mitigation.
 
State and local environmental health agencies do not have funding sources or programs to assess the current and future magnitude and extent of the plume, or to quantify the potential risks to the community.  Therefore, EPA has proposed listing the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume on the National Priorities List (NPL) in order tofacilitate assessment and cleanup of the plume.  Because of the potential community risks that exist and the lack of other mechanisms for evaluating and addressing those risks, Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the State Department of Environmental Quality have all expressed support for the proposal to include the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume on the NPL.
 
Based on local agency support, EPA intends to propose listing the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume in the September 2012 Federal Register.  At that time, EPA will open an official public comment period so that members of the community and other affected parties can submit comments related to the proposed NPL listing.  In addition to EPA’s formal public comment period, Salt Lake City will be reaching out to community councils and neighborhoods to provide information and solicit input regarding the proposed listing.  Residents and other interested parties will also soon be able to participate and comment through the online forum at “Open City Hall.”
 
If EPA receives positive support from the community during the public comment period, a final NPL determination may be decided in April 2013.  If the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume is determined to be an NPL site, EPA will move forward immediately to establish tight timeframes for performing a complete remedial investigation of the plume and a feasibility study to evaluate potential cleanup options.
 
More information is available at the website below, which includes the EPA and UDEQ report and a summary of the findings as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

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