Region 8

International Smelting and Refining

International Smelting and Refining site location map Site Type: Deleted NPL
City: Tooele
County: Tooele
Street Address: 2.5 miles NE of Tooele
ZIP Code: 84074
EPA ID: UTD093120921
SSID: 086Y
Site Aliases: Carr Fork Operations
Congressional District: 1

What's New?

Updated October 2012

On September 25, 2012, the EPA, in collaboration with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), completed the first five-year review of the remedial activities performed under the Superfund program for the International Smelting and Refining (IS&R) Superfund Site. Further information about the five-year review and its conclusions can be found in the Five-Year Reviews section below.

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Site Description

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. The site consists of the Pine Canyon Conservation Area, Pine Canyon/Lincoln Township area and the Tooele Valley Railroad (TVRR).

original IS&R smelter in 1921
Original IS&R smelter, 1921

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.

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Site Risk

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
soil arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, zinc smelting wastes

These risks have been addressed by the site cleanup, which has been completed. The site has been deleted from the National Priorities List.

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Cleanup Progress

2004–2005 Pine Canyon Residential Soil Removal Action

The site covers about 1,200 acres. There are approximately 330 acres of tailings, 27.5 acres of metals-contaminated slag, 3 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.

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 documented 20 cattle deaths due to cadmium poisoning. Soils in the Pine Canyon (formerly Lincoln) community, located 1.5 miles northwest of the site, were affected by emissions from the smelter operations. A 1985 EPA study documented dust blowing off tailing piles. A 1996 UDEQ study documented that children were playing on bare contaminated soils.

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 consisted of tailing piles and stained soils. Data from the ESI indicated metals in soil, surface water and ground water.

Studies conducted as part of the Remedial Investigation (RI) found that some of the properties located in the Pine Canyon community had been impacted by smelter-related contaminants. In addition, a moderately high blood-lead concentration was discovered in a child within the community. Due to the risks identified by the Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment, a removal action, consisting of removing some residential soil, was necessary to reduce local residents’ exposure to lead and arsenic.

Seventy-six lots were sampled and 9,100 cubic yards of contaminated soils were excavated from 17 properties. The excavated material was transported to the tailings repository, located within the reclaimed tailings pond area on the smelter property. After excavation, each property was backfilled and landscaped or restored similar to the pre-construction condition.

The removal action included excavation of up to 18 inches of soil on properties where average lead and arsenic concentrations exceeded health based cleanup levels. This excavation depth was determined to be effective in removing contaminated materials without requiring additional response action.

2005 Tooele Valley Railroad Removal Action

Sampling at the TVRR grade was performed by ARCO. Based on the results of the sampling, the removal action required excavation of up to 18 inches of soil in the town and school sections. These locations had lead and arsenic concentrations that exceeded health based clean-up levels. Removal of up to 18 inches of soil was also completed in the recreational areas, which included the extension section and railroad museum.

Areas where soil was not removed were capped with a soil and/or rock protective cover. In addition to the rail grade, sampling for lead and arsenic was completed on 15 adjacent residential properties. Two of these properties exceeded residential clean up levels and were included in the removal action. Up to 18 inches of soil was removed from these two properties and placed in the tailings repository. Excavated areas were then backfilled with clean soil and the surface was restored to a condition similar to that prior to excavation.

2006 Conservation Area Removal Action

During the RI, 18 locations of varying size were identified in the conservation area that exceeded the health based cleanup levels of lead and arsenic. During the removal action, these locations were addressed by placing a 12-inch thick cap of clean soil over the contaminated source material and then re-vegetating the surface. As a result of physical hazards, two of the 18 locations identified during the RI could not be safely accessed and remediated, therefore fencing and other physical barriers were constructed to restrict access to these locations.

This removal action also addressed other areas identified during the RI where the surface soils were stained and vegetation was limited or absent in specific locations within the conservation area. Although lead and arsenic concentrations were below health based cleanup levels, ARCO removed the top 24 inches of soil, backfilled with clean soil, and re-vegetated these areas. In addition, some storm water controls were modified and repaired. Old foundations and vaults that had subsided since earlier reclamation work were backfilled and covered with clean soil and re-vegetated.

2011 Deletion from the NPL

EPA published a direct final Notice of Deletion in the August 10, 2011 Federal Register announcing the proposed deletion of the International Smelting and Refining Superfund Site from the National Priorities List. With concurrence of the state of Utah, EPA has determined that all appropriate response actions under the Superfund law other than operation, maintenance, monitoring and five-year reviews have been completed at the site. EPA offered a 30-day public comment period (August 10 through September 9, 2011) on the proposed site deletion. No comments were received on the deletion action and therefore the site was deleted from the National Priorities List on October 11, 2011.

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Community Involvement

Community involvement plays an important role in the Superfund process. EPA uses a number of different tools and resources to promote effective, on-going, meaningful community involvement. The goals of the Superfund community involvement program are to:

  • Keep communities affected by sites informed throughout the cleanup process.
  • Provide opportunities for communities to comment and offer their input about site cleanup plans.
  • Facilitate the resolution of community issues tied to a site.

The EPA maintains regular contact with members of the community and implements a variety of community relations activities as new information becomes available. This includes distributing fact sheets and fliers, meeting with the community members and local officials and sharing information with the local media.

A Community Advisory Group was formed shortly after the site was listed and met on an as-needed basis during the remediation activities. Residents who are concerned about children's exposure to lead are encouraged to contact the Tooele County Health Department. They offer free blood-lead testing for children. An Information Repository containing the Administrative Record and other information about the site is available at the Tooele City Library. EPA wants to hear from citizens who have questions or concerns about this site.

As part of the recently completed five-year review process, the EPA interviewed parties impacted by the site, including the current landowners and regulatory agencies involved in site activities or aware of the site. The purpose of the interviews was to document the perceived status of the site and any perceived problems or successes with the remedy.

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EPA places a high priority on land reuse as part of its Superfund response program mission. The Agency tries to select cleanup options that encourage and support future use of a site. We use two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

  • Exploring future uses before the cleanup remedy is implemented, an approach that gives the Agency the best chance of designing cleanup remedies to support the likely future use of a site
  • Working with landowners and communities to remove barriers not considered necessary for the protection of human health or the environment at those sites where remedies are already in place

One option for reuse is locating clean and renewable energy projects on contaminated (or formerly contaminated) lands. As part of this effort, EPA is evaluating the potential for energy projects on these properties and working with landowners and communities to identify ways to remove barriers to such projects.

Reuse at International Smelting and Refining

The area surrounding and including the IS&R site was designated the "Carr Fork Reclamation and Wildlife Management Area" in 1994. The former smelter area is a conservation easement owned by the potentially responsible party (PRP), ARCO, and is now called the Pine Canyon Conservation Area. The conservation area is managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR).

The management plan limits use of this area to light recreational uses such as walking, wildlife observation and seasonal hunting. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on site except for maintenance purposes. The property is fenced to prevent unauthorized use of the area. Activities that would impact the remedy are prohibited.

Operation and maintenance of the site is conducted by UDWR and ARCO in accordance with the Long Term Operation and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan 2010). ARCO is responsible for O&M costs at the site. Fence posts and wire will be repaired and replaced as necessary to maintain the security of the site. This is especially important to prevent motorized vehicles from accessing the site and damaging the soil and/or rock protective cover.

International Smelting and Refining: Reuse Fact Sheet, March 2013

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Land Use Controls and Other Institutional Controls

Land use controls are the most common type of institutional control (IC). ICs are administrative or legal controls that help reduce the likelihood for human exposure to contamination. ICs can also help protect the integrity of the remedy. Examples of ICs are:

  • Zoning ordinances.
  • Environmental covenants.
  • Deed notices.
  • Well-drilling restrictions.
  • Building permits.
  • Informational advisories.

There are multiple land use controls at the site which enhance long-term protectiveness of the remedy. The types of controls at the site include a conservation easement, environmental covenants, and a land use ordinance.

In 1994, ARCO granted a conservation easement to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for 3,020 acres to ensure this property would be retained forever in its natural, scenic and open space condition. This conservation easement was amended in March 2009 and an environmental covenant was place on the same property in June 2010.

In December 2009, an environmental covenant was placed on approximately 1.87 acres of a larger property known as the Tooele Valley Railroad Grade site. This environmental covenant provides long-term controls over a former trestle area. Where the former railroad line in this area crossed Middle Canyon, a trestle was constructed. The trestle area was eventually backfilled with material extracted from the Elton Tunnel. During the removal action completed in 2005, this waste was left in place and capped with clean soil and rock revetment. An environmental covenant was placed to prevent this future disturbance of this material.

Waste was also left in place in a second area, also covered by an environmental covenant. This is referred to as the Zions Farm property and involves waste capped and left in place along the former railroad grade after the track was removed.

ICs are also in place to protect the residential areas in Pine Canyon near the conservation area for three reasons: 1) to maintain covers and management of the former smelter site as a conservation area, 2) to ensure that significant modifications to properties that were sampled and/or remediated don’t negatively impact the condition of the soils, and 3) to protect the health of the people who may live in currently underdeveloped areas in the future.

Why Would ICs be Needed at Properties That Were Cleaned Up?

EPA does not anticipate the need for further work at the properties that were sampled and/or cleaned up during the removal action conducted by ARCO. EPA's investigation concluded that the contaminants were mainly deposited on the surface of property and were transported by wind or surface floodwater events from the former smelter area. However, there are some activities that could potentially change the condition of the soil surrounding a home or structure that was previously remediated. For example, if property owners replace an existing structure with a new one, Tooele County may require additional soil cleanup if modifications to the property warrant.

Tooele County was provided a grant to support the enactment of the institutional controls. These institutional controls are now referred to as Chapter 29 – Pine Canyon Environmental Overlay Zone Exit in the Tooele County Land Use Ordinance. Also, ARCO will make available a repository to accept contaminated soils removed during future modifications or development of properties. This repository will help keep costs to residential property owners to a minimum.

Why Weren't Undeveloped Properties Cleaned Up?

Since concentrations of lead and arsenic in undeveloped (farm and open space) areas were below recreational cleanup levels at the time of the removal action in Pine Canyon, undeveloped areas did not require remediation. When land use for these areas changes to residential, Tooele County may ask property developers to undertake additional sampling. If sample results indicate it is necessary to protect future residents who live on the property, developers may be required to conduct additional cleanup work. In addition, government ordinances and permit programs administered through the county building department and health department are expected to apply to future developable areas. Some of the land may require cleanup action by the developer prior to development for residential purposes.

All redevelopment construction at the IS&R site must be performed in accordance with the institutional controls. See Chapter 29 of the Tooele County Land Use Ordinance and associated Pine Canyon Developer Guidelines for more information.

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Five-Year Reviews

EPA or the lead agency conducts five-year reviews following the start of a Superfund cleanup when contamination is left on the site. These reviews are repeated every five years. We use these reviews to determine:

  • How the remedy is working.
  • If the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.

On September 25, 2012, the EPA, in collaboration with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), completed the first five-year review of the remedial activities performed under the Superfund program for the International Smelting and Refining (IS&R) Superfund Site. The review found that the remedy currently protects human health and the environment because exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks are being controlled through institutional and access controls. In order for the remedy to be protective in the long-term, the requirements of the Pine Canyon Overlay Zone need to be further clarified and all decisions made regarding development actions in the overlay zone need to be formally recorded.

Results of the five-year review and the final report are available to the public at the site information repository and in Site Documents below.

The second five-year review is scheduled to be completed by September 2017.

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Site Documents

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

Five-Year Review Report (PDF), September 2012 (68 pp, 12 MB)

Federal Register Notice of Direct Final Action (deletion from the NPL), effective October 11, 2011

November 2007 Fact Sheet

Record of Decision (ROD), September 2007

Proposed Plan and Public Comment Notice, June 2007

March 2007 Fact Sheet

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Erna Waterman
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (EPR-SR)
Denver, CO 80202-1129
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6762 (toll free Region 8 only)

Site Information Repository:

Tooele City Library
128 West Vine Street
Tooele, UT 84074


Tony Howes
Project Manager
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental Response & Remediation Division
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Dave Allison
Community Involvement Specialist
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental Response & Remediation Division
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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Photo/Video Gallery

Click on a thumbnail below to view the full size image.

Pine Canyon Conservation Area reclaimed site tailings impoundment
Lincoln Township example of restored property
Tooele Valley Railroad Grade, school section
Tooele Valley Railroad Grade, extension section
Smelter operation and post cleanup

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The following links exit the site Exit

Tooele County

Tooele County Health Department

Tooele County Land Use Ordinance

Tooele City Library

Utah Department of Environmental Quality

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