At ages 68 and 67, Jesus and Margarita Garcia should be enjoying their retirement years with the warmth of old friendships, the delight of their grandchildren and the peace of their garden.
And if it weren't for the garden, they would.But the Garcias' garden contains 929 parts per million of lead. Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Garcias' yard and garden - along with yards of more than 500 other Midvale homes and residents - would be torn up next year and the contaminated soil carted back to the Sharon Steel site.
Margarita Garcia, 270 S. Main, Midvale, gets most of her information about Monday's announcement from television. TV told her that her yard will be torn up next summer. TV told her she and Jesus would have to move out of their home while the work is done.
"We have to find our own place from what I've heard on TV," she said. "That will bring a lot of inconvenience."
Asked where she will go, she said, "I don't know exactly yet." She thinks the government will pay for the temporary relocation. "They say they are, but that is just what we heard on TV."
The Garcias have known for eight years that their yard was contaminated with tailings from the Sharon Steel site. The 510 homes and businesses surrounding the Sharon Steel site, located on 7800 South just east of the Jordan River, became contaminated with arsenic and lead when winds blew tailings from the site onto the surrounding land.
A metal milling company that operated on the 260-acre site from 1905 to 1971 left an estimated 14 million cubic yards of crushed, processed ore - known as tailings - on the site when it went out of business.
Decades of winds dumped too much of that lead into the Garcias' and neighboring yards. Lead, studies show, leads to lower IQs in children. Arsenic is a proven carcinogenic.
That's something else for the Garcias to worry about. They raised their children on vegetables grown in that lead-contaminated garden. And for 27 years, the family has lived next door to a pile of carcinogenic tailings.
The Garcias - along with most Sharon Steel neighbors - would prefer to see the tailings carted away from the site instead of "stabilized" so the wind can't blow soil into their yards anymore.
"They say they don't have the money to remove the tailings back there," Margarita said. "So the second best thing they can do I guess is to remove the soil from our yards."
Robert Hughes, 39 Fern Drive, counts himself lucky. The soil taken from his yard was below the action level, so he will not have to move from his home while the top layers of his yard are scraped away.
"It hasn't bothered me, anyway. I've lived in Midvale all my life. I'm 60. I've had no problems. Of course, you've got to worry about the little kids on this thing. If it bothers the kids, they've got to clean it up and clean it up good. But I've never had any ill effects and I've lived right close to it for a long time. I don't worry about it."
Besides wondering where they will go and how they will live while their yard is torn up, the Garcias wonder how the EPA will leave their carefully groomed yard with its vast garden.
"We've tried to keep it looking as nice as we possibly can in spite of what we know is there," Margarita said. "I don't know how they are going to leave it. That is one of the things that keeps us so worried. There are so many things that keep us worried."