Tooele County commissioners have agreed to condemn private land, if necessary, to provide a new access road to a proposed $90 million hazardous-waste incinerator.
Previous plans to use a road across federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management have been stymied by administrative appeals filed by Wendover City and several environmental groups.Because of the problems, USPCI wants to develop an alternative access that crosses land owned by Envirocare of Utah and Aptus.
Envirocare owns a landfill for mildly radioactive wastes and Aptus is nearing completion of the state's first hazardous-waste incinerator.
Negotiations to acquire land for the new route have been going on for several months, according to officials of both Aptus and USPCI, but they have been unsuccessful.
Commissioners Teryl Hunsaker and Leland Hogan entered the process Tuesday when they approved an agreement that commits the county to using its power of eminent domain to condemn the land if USPCI can't reach a friendly agreement with Envirocare and Aptus.
Hunsaker said he felt it was important to support USPCI because of the "financial and industrial backing it will give Tooele County." He believes it is very unlikely that the county will be forced to condemn the land.
USPCI, a subsidiary of Union Pacific Corp., wants to build Utah's second hazardous-waste incinerator about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. It would be capable of burning almost all types of hazardous organic by-products of industry, including dioxins and PCBs.
The Utah Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste has issued a draft permit for the incinerator, and agency staff are reviewing comments submitted on the proposal.
The BLM has completed an environmental impact statement on USPCI's proposal, concluding that construction of the plant would not create significant problems. As a result, the agency authorized construction of the access road and utility corridors.
But Wendover and the environmental groups appealed the decision, claiming the study understated the problems associated with toxic air emissions and transportation of the waste. The Department of Interior's Board of Land Appeals has agreed to consider their appeals and issued a stay which prevents USPCI from doing additional work on federal land.