A mysterious chemical spill near the old Bennett Paint plant site at 2131 S. 300 West has state and federal environmental health officials puzzled.
Investigators are trying to identify the chemical substance found floating on top of some 18 inches of water that had pooled at the site following recent rains. Investigators are also trying to determine the source of the chemical and whether it is hazardous.Officials have not determined if the chemical came from storage tanks at the site or was dumped at the site by unknown persons. A Bennett spokesman said residue in the storage tanks was not sufficient to cause a spill of this magnitude.
The spill was reported Tuesday by Delta Geo-Technical officials, and teams from the South Salt Lake Fire Department, Salt Lake City-County Health Department and the Utah Bureau of Environmental Response and Remediation responded.
Tests are currently under way to analyze samples taken from the site. A private tanker company has pumped some 12,000 gallons of contaminated water into a tanker truck to contain the problem. The pumping operation is continuing under supervision of a federal Environmental Protection Agency emergency response team summoned by the state to assist in securing and stabilizing the site.
Officials believe there is no immediate health risk. While shallow underground water in the area is considered contaminated, no one is currently using it as a drinking water source.
Officials hope to identify the chemical over the weekend. The response team will then be able to determine both short-term and long-term risks involved.
Bennett Paint manufactured and sold paint and glue at the site from 1947 to 1985, the year the paint manufacturing business was leased to another company. Bennett retained ownership of the land and buildings.
The manufacturing operation ceased in 1988 and in 1989, the EPA investigated the site for possible inclusion on the national priorities list under the Federal Superfund Program.
The site did not rate high enough to make the priority list, but both state and federal officials recommended that contamination problems be addressed.