State officials have finally collected soil and water samples from a former U&I sugar plant in this northern Utah community, two years after it was declared potentially toxic.
It will be at least another six weeks before results of the testing are released, said Kent Gray, director of the state Bureau of Environmental Response and Remediation.He said the samples were taken from the Box Elder County site, along with samples of asbestos from buildings, contents of 55-gallon drums scattered on the property and fluids from electrical transformers.
The samples are being analyzed at a lab, with results expected to be available in about three weeks. He said the bureau will then assess the results to see if the risks are great enough for the site to be placed on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list.
"I'd say it will be about six weeks before any final answers are ready to be made public," Gray said Wednesday.
Recommendations for cleanup activities will be made after the level of hazard is determined, he said.
Gray said the delay in testing was because Utah has more than 200 potential Superfund sites under investigation.
If the site is evaluated to be hazardous enough for the EPA's Superfund list, there is a possibility that federal money could be used for cleanup if adequate funding cannot be obtained from the parties responsible for the waste.
An order to fence the former U&I site because of potential danger was made by the EPA in early 1989.
The property is presently owned by Weston Grain and Agrifuel. Previously it was owned by U&I and then by AgriNorthwest, which paid for the fencing even though it no longer owns the property.
Hays Griswold, on-scene coordinator with the EPA in Denver, said an initial environmental audit of the site revealed leaking transformers that were believed to contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a suspected cancer-causing substance.
In addition, Griswold said, the EPA also discovered asbestos used as insulation scattered throughout the site and containers of potentially harmful pesticides, herbicides, paint and solvents.
City officials have said the fence is inadequate to keep people out of the site and have complained for months about the delay in testing of the on-site materials.