Slag Site Cleanup in Our Neighborhood

Tom and I have been observing with curiosity and interest an excavation project near our home. We live just west of the Midvale, Utah line in West Jordan. Just east of that line (which is actually the Jordan River), is the land formerly owned by Sharon Steele, a mining company that dumped its tailings on this land. The Midvale Slag Superfund Site, a former smelting facility which covers 446 acres in Midvale, is right next to the Sharon Steele site. The site contains slag and hazardous smelting wastes, posing a threat to human health and the environment. It was added to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1991.

The Sharon Steele site was cleaned up several years ago. The Midvale Slag Superfund Site land is now being excavated by Entact, whose services were retained by Littleson, Inc., the owner of the Midvale Slag Superfund Site. Citizens for a Safe Future for Midvale (CSFM), A United States Environmental Protection Agency Technical Assistance Group (TAG), has as its mission,

….inform [ing] Midvale and it’s surrounding community about issues relating to the site cleanups of Sharon Steel (Jordan Bluffs) and Midvale Slag (Bingham Junction) Super Fund sites. This objective will be primarily met through public meetings and community publications.

As we observe this excavation and cleanup in our daily travels, we also note that signs are being put up on surrounding vacant land for the leasing of future retail space. Who exactly is making money off of the cleanup and surrounding projects? Companies like Entact claim to advocate for the environment, but do they really? To me it looks like just one more big corporation making money off of environmental interests and issues. Also, it seems like tax dollars are used to fund this project only to benefit the private owner of the land. Seems to me like revenue from a project like this should be put right back into the superfund.

I had a difficult time finding information on the issue. This warrants further research on my part to become better informed.

We have been resistant to the change in look of our community. About a year ago, the property right next to ours, about 7 acres full of older homes and really old trees, was completely leveled in preparation for commercial building. The land still sits vacant. We had an offer on our property when this was all starting which we refused. (The real estate agent even brought us a box of oranges for the holidays two Christmases ago!). Our house is about 100 years old. The cottonwood tree in our back yard, under which we were married, is well over 100 years old. The access lane to our house leads to 3 other houses behind ours. Our neighbors have horses and sheep. Our unmowed yard with its river willows and our gardens serve as a habitat and haven for birds, mice, skunks and other wildlife.

There is still some character left in our neighborhood but it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that character. More and more people are succombing to the pressures of corporate entities to sell their homes for commercial endeavors. The superfund cleanup is sure to result in this as well. My big concern is not only the character of the neighborhood but also the implications of the toxic materials that were dumped there and having things built on it. Will it be 100% assured that there will be no residual effects of that waste?

We’ll see.

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