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Preliminary test results show Fairmont pond may not have mercury contamination

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office are still performing analysis on samples from the site.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Yellow tape surrounds the Fairmont Park Pond in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Testing has revealed the potential presence of mercury.

An official from the Environmental Protection Agency said Fairmont pond’s preliminary results show that there may not be mercury contamination after it was detected on Sept. 8.

Valeriy Bisyayev, the federal on-scene coordinator from the EPA’s Region 8 office, said with testing so far, “everything’s been kind of good.” The EPA is still waiting on final results, but the preliminary results show the original test might have been a fluke.

“We’re still doing our due diligence, like taking additional samplings and being a little bit more thorough with it,” Bisyayev said.

The original mercury finding came when the city was cleaning up a sheen found on the pond using a rented frac tank, Bisyayev said, which is a portable tank used to transport liquids. Before the contents were disposed of, the tank tested positive for mercury — but that might have been from previous use of the tank.

“It could have been in the pond, right, when they took the water,” Bisyayev said. “But it also, there could be a chance that he was part of what was in the frac tank, right?”

Bisyayev said they’ve been using an instrument that can precisely detect mercury vapors. When doing a perimeter walk around the pond, the only mercury the instrument detected was near the tank.

The EPA also looked at the site of a nearby fire that occurred June 13 and a gym that’s being demolished close by, but neither had any traces of mercury.

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