Utah Power & Light Co. will spend approximately $100,000 cleaning up a hazardous-waste site at its Olmsted facility at the mouth of Provo Canyon.
The contaminated site was identified in early 1990 following an environmental audit requested by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of taking over the property. UP&L used the site for vehicle maintenance for as long as 70 years and is accepting responsibility for its cleanup, according to Dave Mead, UP&L spokesman.Mead said the company hasn't used the pit in years and it "wasn't in our consciousness."
Oil from vehicles was drained into a pit behind the plant. Soil from the pit tested positive for high levels of hydrocarbons and small amounts of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and traces of 1,1,1, trichlorethane.
Brad Maulding, environmental health scientist at the Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste, classified the level of solvents at the site as "just barely detectable," but said that "if it's detectable it's hazardous." The pit is about the size of a school bus and about 25 feet deep.
Both Maulding and Mead said the contamination has not migrated into the Provo River.
Soil excavated at the site has been placed in 18 covered gondolas and will be disposed of in special, Environmental Protection Agency approved landfills, Maulding said.
The bureau, which was notified about the site in December, has not yet determined the full extent of the cleanup that will be required and has not decided whether UP&L will be fined, he said.
UP&L does not know how long it will take to clean up the site, Mead said.