Region 8

Kennecott North Zone / Tailings

Kennecott North Zone site location map Site Type: Proposed NPL
City: Magna
County: Salt Lake
Street Address: 12000 West 2100 South
ZIP Code: 84044
EPA ID: UTD070926811
SSID: 084B
Site Aliases: Kennecott Magna Soils, Kennecott Copper, Kennecott Tailings
Congressional Districts: 1, 2, 3

What's New?

Updated March 2014

EPA and Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) are conducting the first five-year review for the Kennecott North Zone. The purpose of the five-year review is to determine whether the remedy at the site remains protective of human health and the environment. This review is expected to be completed in 2014.

Site Description

The Kennecott North Zone site is an industrial area extending from the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains to the south shore of Great Salt Lake and lies to the west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The community of Magna, located at the lower east edge of the site, had a population of 26,505 in the 2010 census.

Interstate-80, state highways and rail lines pass through the site. Recreation at the Great Salt Lake includes lakeshore swimming and wading, sunbathing and bird watching.

Since 1906, the site has been used to process copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, arsenic, gold and silver-bearing ores. The resulting wastes contain hazardous substances including heavy metals. Soils and sludge are contaminated, as are surface and groundwater that affect wetlands between the site and the shore.

Kennecott North Zone - Garfield Smelter
Garfield Smelter

The cleanup approach for the site has been addressed in stages, including early actions and ongoing long-term phases. Early response actions focused on the removal of soil contamination found during modernization of the smelter and refinery. The second early response action included characterizing soils in the community of Magna to assess if further response action was necessary. Results indicated further response actions were not needed.

Long-term actions focused on cleanup of the wastewater treatment plant sludge ponds, wetlands and soils. Further long-term actions include the incorporation of operation and maintenance plans, and the development of institutional controls to manage future land use and change, and to restrict human consumption of the groundwater.

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Site Risk

Kennecott North Zone - Garfield Smelter Smokestack
The Garfield Smelter smokestack, at 1,215 ft. high, is the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi River.

Many years of smelting and processing ore mined in the central Oquirrh Mountains, 20 miles south of the site, left behind extensive mine wastes. Contamination can be found in sludge ponds, soils, slag piles, smelter-related waste, surface water in streams, ditches, ponds and wetlands, as well as groundwater.

Arsenic, lead, cadmium and selenium are the potential contaminants of concern. These metals have been linked with various types of cancer, high blood pressure, poisoning, gastrointestinal disorders and decreased body weight if people are exposed to them over long periods of time. Birds are particularly sensitive to selenium.

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
soil, groundwater, surface water, sludge arsenic, cadmium, lead, selenium wastes from ore smelting and processing

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Cleanup Progress

In 1994, EPA proposed the site for the National Priorities List (NPL). Kennecott, UDEQ and EPA signed an agreement stating that Kennecott would continue the cleanup and EPA would postpone adding the site to the final NPL. Cleanup activities began addressing groundwater contamination as well as soil cleanups.

Kennecott continues to clean up the site with oversight by UDEQ and EPA. Contaminated soil is characterized and either disposed of in the on-site repository or capped in place. Kennecott has installed a reverse osmosis groundwater treatment plant to ensure the safety of the public water supply. Contaminated groundwater is monitored and collected when it surfaces. Other state agencies assist to ensure active mining operations are in compliance with permits.

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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.

On January 13, 2013, UDEQ placed a public notice in the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune announcing the start of the five-year review; the Tooele Transcript Bulletin ran the public notice on January 15, 2013. The public notice explained the five-year review process and encouraged the public to contact the agencies if they wanted to be interviewed. As part of the five-year review process, community interviews were conducted and a summary of the interviews will be included in the five-year review report. The first five-year review report is expected to be completed in 2014.

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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. EPA uses two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

Concentrates vaporizer at the Garfield Smelter, with wetlands in the background
Concentrates vaporizer at the Garfield Smelter, with wetlands in the background
  • 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 the siting of 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.

Another option for reuse includes turning contaminated lands into open space, wetlands or some other environmental benefit. Kennecott needed to expand their tailings storage area and purchased land along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake. These were degraded lands due to salt evaporation ponds, over grazing, waste dumping, and off-road vehicle use. The wetlands received discharges either directly or indirectly from the other operable units of the Kennecott North Zone. These wetlands are located north of the refining and smelting operations between highways 201, 202, and Interstate 80 along the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Kennecott turned what once had been an abused wetland into a shorebird and waterfowl reserve along the south shores of the Great Salt Lake. Birding groups, schools and university research teams observe and study life in this wetland, which has become a haven for birds and an important education and scientific resource.

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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.

No ICs are in place at this time. However, ICs are required and under development to help manage future land use changes and to restrict human consumption of the groundwater.

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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.

Since waste is left in place, EPA will continue to conduct five-year reviews to ensure that the remedy remains protective. The first five-year review is expected to be completed in 2014.

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Site Documents

Kennecott North Zone Record of Decision, September 26, 2002

Kennecott North Facilities Soils and Wastewater Treatment Plant Ponds Site, Removal Action SSID #4B, Work Plan with Appendices, September 27, 1996

Administrative Order on Consent – North Facility Soils and Wastewater Treatment Plant Ponds, June 10, 1996

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Kerri Fiedler
Environmental Engineer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (EPR-SR)
Denver, CO 80202-1129
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6493 (toll free Region 8 only)

Site Document Repositories:

Magna Library
8339 West 3500 South
Magna, UT 84044

EPA Superfund Records Center
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129
To request copies of administrative record documents call:
800-227-8917 ext. 312-7273 (toll free Region 8 only)


Doug Bacon
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.

Solid matte copper storage under dome
Wet concentrate storage
Furnace concentrates feed dryer
Double-walled slurry pipeline

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The following links exit the site Exit

Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Salt Lake County Library Services: Magna Library

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