As a result of a January release of hydrochloric acid by the U.S. Magnesium Rowley Plant in Tooele County, the Bureau of Land Management is closing an area of less than 20 acres of public land on the western shoreline of the Great Salt Lake.
The closure is to protect the public from accidental exposure to acidic liquid waste, according to a BLM news release
Recent sampling of liquid on BLM-managed lands found pH 1 wastewater — equivalent to battery acid — flowing onto public lands.
The first phase of remediation included constructing a fence line around this small parcel to keep the public, livestock, and wildlife from direct contact with the hazardous waste on public land.
The current phase requires the company to address the cause of release and how it plans to control access to the spill area, and it must come up with a contingency plan applicable for any future release.
Finally, the company must clean up the spill and develop plans to address future spills.
“This closure and fence line is crucial to protect the public from coming into direct contact with the highly acidic liquid and affected soils surrounding the spill area,” said BLM Salt Lake Field Office Manager Rebecca Hotze.
Signs placed every 150 feet along the fence will notify the public about the safety issue. The area west and north of the fence line remains open to motorized vehicles.
U.S. Magnesium “released” 8,000 pounds of dangerous waste into an unlined retention pond, releasing some onto adjacent public land in Tooele County, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Although the magnesium producer reported the release Jan. 23, the EPA did not disclose the incident until Feb. 21, when the agency agreed to a mitigation plan with U.S. Magnesium.
The EPA did not specify if the acid release was deliberate or accidental.