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Fairmont Park pond reopens after EPA testing confirms no evidence of mercury contamination

Possible contamination was first detected Sept. 8.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Yellow tape surrounds the Fairmont Park Pond in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

Testing conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there is no evidence of mercury in Fairmont Park pond, after possible contamination was detected Sept. 8. The pond reopened Monday.

The city’s Department of Public Utilities is continuing to investigate the possible reasons for the initial detection of mercury, according to a news release from the office of Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. Valeriy Bizyayev, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s Region 8 office, said in the release that all findings are available on the incident’s response website for the public to view.

The city is also working with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to confirm the absence of mercury in fish, which is expected to be completed “in the next several weeks.” According to the release, fish from the pond should not be consumed until the analysis is finalized.

An oily sheen observed on the water first alerted officials to concerns about the pond on Aug. 20. The substance is “suspected to be related to mineral oil from a former transformer at a nearby construction site,” which does not contain mercury, according to the release.

Public Utilities Director Laura Briefer said in the release that the remaining sheen seen on the pond’s surface should dissipate with time and future rains.

“We are pleased with the positive outcome of the extensive investigation of the Fairmont Park pond,” Mendenhall said in the release. “Our top priority is always Salt Lake City is residents’ health and safety. In this situation, our teams and protocols worked exactly as they should. We acted quickly and resolutely in protecting public and environmental health.”

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