Salt Lake City

Initial Comment Period Regarding PCE Plume on EPA Listing Nearing End

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 16, 2012
Contact: Art Raymond
801-547-2659

Initial Comment Period on EPA Listing Nearing End
Proposal would place PCE plume on National Priorities list
 
SALT LAKE CITY –Salt Lake City residents have until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19 to submit comments on a proposal to add the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume to the National Priorities List (NPL).  The deadline marks the end of a 60-day comment period that commenced when the issue was published to the Federal Register.

If the public and local agencies support the proposed listing, the 700 South 1600 East Plume Site could be added to the NPL as early as next spring, making the site eligible for comprehensive assessment and cleanup through the Superfund process. The site’s listing will also mandate the availability of federal funds for cleanup and mitigation. Because of the potential community risks that exist and the lack of other mechanisms for evaluating and addressing those risks, Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and theState Department of Environmental Quality have all expressed support for the proposal to include the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume Site on the NPL.

“We are concerned about the potential impacts of this groundwater plume on our community,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.  “Salt Lake City is committed to working with local, state and federal agencies to ensure the health and well-being of residents who may be affected by this contamination now and in the future.”

In August 2010, Salt Lake City discovered low  levels of the chemical perchloroethene, or PCE, in surface water springs located between 800 South and 1000 South, and between 1300 East and 1100 East.  While Salt Lake City’s public drinking water supply is not connected to or affected by these springs, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) was immediately engaged to conduct an investigation to identify the source of the contamination and potential risks to the community.  
 
The EPA and UDEQ published a report of their findings in May 2012.  Insummary, the report confirmed the presence of PCE in surface water springs, and concluded that it is likely connected to a previously identified PCE groundwater plume located more than 100 feet below ground surface near 700 South and 1600 East. This plume was originally discovered in the 1990s when PCE was discovered in an irrigation well at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
 
Previous UDEQ and EPA investigations of the 700 South 1600 East Site conducted in 2000 indicated that while PCE was found in deep groundwater, no PCE was detected in surface water springs in the city. At that time there did not appear to be any means for people in the community to come in contact with PCE in the relatively deep groundwater.  As a precaution, Salt Lake City removed its drinking water well in the vicinity of this PCE plume from service.
 
The full extent of the 700 South 1600 East PCE plume is still unknown, but with the recent discovery of the contaminated springs, it now appears the PCE plume could continue to migrate through groundwater.  For these reasons, Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality believe that conditions have changed significantly to  warrant a more rigorous investigation defining the extent of the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume Site and its risks to human health and the environment, followed by appropriate remedial action and mitigation.
 
The public is encouraged to provide comments to EPA until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.  Those interested in submitting comments online can go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=25;po=0;s=FDMS%252BDocket...
 
In addition to EPA’s formal public comment period, Salt Lake City wishes to hear community input regarding the proposed listing.  Residents and other interested parties can express their ideas and opinions to the City through the online forum at “Open City Hall”, http://www.slcgov.com/opencityhall .
    
More information is available at the website below, which includes the EPA and UDEQ report and a summary of the findings and answers to frequently asked questions.
http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/ut/700southpce/index.html
 
Records are available for review at the following locations:

U.S. EPA, Region 8
Superfund Records Center
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202

Salt Lake City Main Library
210 E. 400 South, Level 3
Salt Lake City, UT 84111