A second defendant in a civil suit has agreed to help share the cost of cleaning up Midvale's hazardous tailings and slag site, major environmental contamination left behind by the defunct Sharon Steel mill.
UV Industries Inc. Liquidating Trust reached a settlement agreement with the federal government, in which it will pay the Environmental Protection Agency 60 percent of its assets and claims for the corporation's share of cleanup costs, said EPA spokesman Matthew Cohn.UV is the former owner and operator of the milling facility and smelter. It was the last entity to actually operate the steel mill, which was in business betwen 1906 and 1971, Cohn said.
The site near downtown Midvale has allowed dust contaminated with dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic and lead, to blow onto roads, homes and yards.
Late last month, the EPA and state of Utah announced that Sharon Steel had agreed to pay either $22 million cash or a mixed settlement of cash and claims in bankruptcy court amounting to $82 million in claims. This was the largest settlement ever in bankruptcy court for a Superfund cleanup.
Sharon Steel obtained the property in hopes of processing tailings produced by UV, Cohn said.
"Under the terms of the consent decree, UV will pay EPA 60 percent of all its assets and claims," said Cohn. The total value of this could amount to between $11 million and $18 million. "In addition, UV will dismiss its claims against the United States."
Only one defendant company remains in a U.S. District Court suit filed by the Justice Department, the Atlantic Richfield Co. That trial is set to begin Oct. 9 before Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins.
Before the agreement is final, the federal government will allow public comments on it for 30 days. Then Jenkins must decide whether to accept the agreement.
The final cleanup plan for the residential area next to the site is due to be released this month. A proposal for cleaning up the mill site is to be released early in October.
A public forum on the Sharon Steel Superfund cleanup was scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Midvale City Auditorium.
Asked when the cleanup can begin, Cohn said, "Usually it takes us a year or two to do remedial design and get all of the contracting mechanisms in place."