[PLEASE NOTE: The information presented below is offered for educational purposes only. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.]
Utah Superfund Site: International Smelting And Refining
International Smelting And Refining
This site is not a Federal Facility.
ABOUT THE SITE . . .
The International Smelting and Refining (IS&R) site is located on the west flank of the Oquirrh Mountains near the mouth of Pine Canyon. It is approximately 2 miles northeast of Tooele, in north-central Utah. The canyon is drained by Pine Creek.
Copper smelting began in 1910. The smelter had a capacity of 4,000 tons of copper ore per day. Two years later copper ore supplies declined and IS&R built a lead smelter. In 1915 Anaconda (now ARCO - the Atlantic Richfield Company) purchased the IS&R subsidiary. Over several years the owners added a lead-zinc sulfide flotation mill and a slag treatment plant for lead and zinc recovery. Copper production ceased in 1946 when the copper smelter closed. Lead smelting ceased in early 1972 and the site was reclaimed in 1986. An estimated 650,000 tons per year of tailings, slag and flue dust were produced during early operations at the IS&R site.
Emissions of metal-containing smoke and acid gases were reported during IS&R operations. Livestock deaths in the area of the site were attributed to arsenic, lead and sulfuric acid poisoning. UDEQ (Utah Department of Environmental Quality) documented 20 cattle deaths due to cadmium poisoning. During a 1985 site inspection, EPA noted dust blowing off tailings.
The site covers about 1,200 acres. There are approximately 330 acres of tailings, 27.5 acres of metals-contaminated slag, 13 acres of settling ponds, about 50 acres of landfills and 125 acres of smelter wastes. Investigations indicate the presence of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc in the soils, tailings and slag.
Soils in Pine Canyon, Utah (formerly Lincoln), about 1.5 miles northwest of the site, have been affected by emissions from the site. A 1985 EPA study documented dust blowing off tailings piles and during a 1996 UDEQ study, children were observed playing on bare soils. The site is accessible and used (illegally) by off-road motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle users. The area surrounding and including the IS&R site was designated the "Carr Fork Reclamation and Wildlife Management Area" in 1994.
As part of a Reclamation/Stabilization Plan, ARCO demolished all the buildings on-site, consolidated and isolated waste, graded the site with uniform slopes to minimize erosion and planted a vegetated cover. After the reclamation effort ARCO entered into a conservation easement agreement with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to manage the site for wildlife habitat and conservation values.
UDEQ performed an Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) in 1996. Results indicated that the soil cap over numerous source areas was eroding or poorly vegetated. The source areas did not have containment features, and numerous tailings piles were deposited along the banks of Dry Creek, a drainage south of the site and Pine Creek. Data from the ESI indicated metals in soil, surface water and ground water.
EPA is concerned with the impact of past, present and future releases from the site. The impact on soil/sediment, surface and ground water quality and the effectiveness of the vegetated cover are also areas of concern. EPA and UDEQ developed draft risk management goals and objectives for the site. These management goals and objectives will be used to design the environmental investigation for the entire site.
The site was placed on the NPL (National Priorities List) in July 2000. ARCO, a potentially responsible party at the site, is conducting studies to further characterize the waste on site. ARCO will also evaluate a variety of clean up options.
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