Region 8

US Magnesium

US Magnesium site location map Site Type: Final NPL
County: Tooele
Street Address: Great Salt Lake southwest shore, approximately 15 miles north of the Rowley exit on I-80
ZIP Code: 84029 and 84083
EPA ID: UTN000802704
SSID: 08PU
Site Alias: US Magnesium, LLC
Congressional District: 1

What's New?

Updated August 2011

On August 4, 2011, EPA Region 8 issued an administrative order on consent to US Magnesium LLC, the owner and operator of the US Magnesium Superfund site, for the performance of the remedial investigation/feasibility study.


EPA is currently offering a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to a community group interested in the US Magnesium Superfund Site. A TAG provides money for activities that help the community participate in decision making at eligible Superfund sites. Grant recipients can contract with independent technical advisors to interpret technical information about the site.

For more information about TAG grants or other EPA resources available for communities, please contact EPA Communications and Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Chergo (chergo.jennifer@epa.gov) at 303-312-6601.

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Site Description

The US Magnesium facility and areas of waste disposal spans 4,525 acres in Tooele County, Utah. The site is located in a scarcely populated, industrial area, 40 miles west of Salt Lake City and 33 miles north of Grantsville.

Aerial View of the U.S. Magnesium Facility
Aerial view of the US Magnesium facility

The facility is adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, an area that has been designated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and is being considered as a Wetland of International Importance. It is an ecosystem that attracts millions of birds per year and houses many unique plants and animals as well as certain species of federal and state concern.

The facility has been producing magnesium at the site since 1972. It uses brine from the Great Salt Lake as the raw material and produces a variety of wastes. There are areas of uncontrolled wastes on the property which investigations show are threatening the health of workers and the environment.

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Site Risk

EPA and UDEQ have been concerned about releases from the facility to the environment from the site for more than 15 years. Risk assessments show environmental and human health risks.

Contaminants consist of heavy metals, acidic wastewater, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene (HCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These contaminants have both cancerous and non-cancerous health risks to humans and wildlife and have been released into the air, soil, surface water, and groundwater and are largely uncontrolled.

Red River Anode Outfall Sampling and Dead Bird
Red River Anode Outfall Sampling and Dead Bird

Birds have been regularly observed in contact with or near contaminated areas on the site. Observations indicate that waterfowl can die after coming into contact with the contamination. Bird egg studies have documented concentrations of PCB and HCB in eggs at or near the site. Additionally, about twenty years ago, the lake level rose and flooded the site, creating an open conduit for contaminants to travel into the Great Salt Lake.

Dioxin, PCBs and HCB are present at levels potentially posing both cancer and non-cancer (diabetes and immune system) risks to industrial workers throughout the site. Blood testing of workers in 2002 and in 2004 found elevated levels of dioxin and HCB as compared to the general U.S. population.

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Cleanup Progress

On November 4, 2009, EPA, with support from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), added US Magnesium, in Tooele County, Utah, to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. Listing US Magnesium on the NPL makes the cleanup of the site a high priority nationally and enables EPA and UDEQ to use Superfund authority to initiate and oversee the cleanup of the site. Sites listed on the NPL are among the nation’s most contaminated places.

View the list of EPA's newest NPL sites

EPA proposed to list US Magnesium on the NPL on September 3, 2008. The NPL is a list of sites—Superfund sites—across the nation that are contaminated with hazardous substances. Superfund is the shorthand term for CERCLA—the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act—passed by Congress in 1980 to address the dangers of abandoned or uncontrolled sites contaminated with hazardous substances.

Environmental investigations indicate high levels of environmental contamination at this site. Contaminants consist of: metals, including arsenic, chromium, mercury, copper, and zinc; acidic waste water; chlorinated organics; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene (HCB); and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These wastes are being released into the environment and are largely uncontrolled.

Listing the US Magnesium site on the NPL enables EPA to use the Superfund law to address contamination and qualifies the site for extensive cleanup to address hazardous and uncontrolled wastes at the property. A final NPL listing also guarantees the public an opportunity to participate in cleanup decisions through the Superfund process.

Placing US Magnesium on the NPL ensures that contamination is addressed and risks to human health and the environment will be controlled. This action will not necessarily halt production at the facility. Overall, a National Priorities Listing will provide EPA the resources and authority to comprehensively address the uncontrolled hazardous wastes at the US Magnesium facility.

As this site is newly listed there is not yet any cleanup progress to report. EPA has assembled a technical team to begin planning for site investigations and risk assessment under the CERCLA-NCP process.

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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

EPA announced its proposal to list US Magnesium on the NPL to the general public in a public notice on September 3, 2008. In addition, we informed local agency officials, elected officials, and others in advance of the proposed listing. During the extended public comment period from September 3–November 24, 2008, any member of the general public could submit comments on this proposed listing via e-mail or in writing.

After we finalized US Magnesium on the NPL on November 4, 2009, EPA began meeting with interested stakeholders, offering to help convene a Community Advisory Group and offering information about Technical Assistance Grants and other resources for community groups.

We are committed to a substantial and meaningful public involvement process as investigation and environmental cleanup at this site progresses. If you are interested in being added to our contact list or would like to get more involved, please contact EPA representatives Jennifer Chergo or Christopher Wardell, listed in the Contacts section below.

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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

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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:

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

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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.

Phase 1A Remedial Investigation Sampling and Analysis Plan, September 2013

Community Involvement Plan, September 2012

Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study, August 4, 2011

Final HRS package, Rev. November 2009

Final Rule, FR notice #48 (PDF), November 4, 2009(8 pp, 79 K)

Proposed Rule, FR notice #49 (PDF), September 3, 2008(8 pp, 77 K)

HRS package correction, September 23, 2008

HRS package to propose site for the NPL, September 2008

Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment documents:

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Contacts

EPA

Ken Wangerud
NPL Coordinator
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (8EPR-SR)
Denver, CO 80202
303-312-6703
800-227-8917, ext. 312-6703
wangerud.ken@epa.gov

Jennifer Chergo
Office of Communication and Public Affairs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (8OC)
Denver, CO 80202
303-312-6601
800-227-8917, ext. 312-6601
chergo.jennifer@epa.gov

UDEQ

Chad Gilgen
Environmental Scientist
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
801-536-4237
cgilgen@utah.gov

Dave Allison
Community Involvement Coordinator
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
801-536-4479
dallison@utah.gov

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Photo/Video Gallery

US Magnesium facility
Red River anode outfall sampling
Culvert sampling by unprotected workers
Spent liquid outfall
Dead white pelican

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Links

The following links exit the site Exit

Tooele County, Utah

Utah Department of Environmental Quality

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