Test results of contaminated water taken from a hazardous-waste spill beneath a former Salt Lake fire station show the spill is insignificant, a City-County Health Department official said Thursday.
Officials have analyzed test results from 20 percent of the soil and water samples taken from a spill at 679 S. Second West discovered Dec. 5, said Garth Miner, water-quality engineer for the Health Department."We're talking less than 10 parts per billion of anything (hazardous) in the water. It's really a small amount. There's obviously no gross contamination there," he said.
The spill was discovered by a worker renovating the building, now housing a used-car repair shop, who detected noxious fumes near a sump pump that was supposed to flush solvents from the old fire station into the sewer system.
Instead, the sump had been draining chemicals into the groundwater, perhaps for years. No water users were pumping water directly from the groundwater in the immediate area, city officials said.
Tertiary butylbenzene, a chemical used in cleaning solvents and on a list of toxic elements by the Environmental Protection Agency, was found to be the most concentrated hazardous waste on the site, Miner said.
Among those chemicals tested thus far, bertiary butylbenzene was, however, found only in infinitesimal amounts, he said.
The Health Department still must review test results from the remaining 80 percent of the samples taken. The department then will draft a report recommending some kind of cleanup for the site.
Cleanup could range from taking no action to removing and disposing of contaminated soil in the area at significant cost, said Judson Gross, city safety coordinator.
Any possible costs would be born by city departments and the city's contingency fund, Zuhl said. "That could pose a hardship on a department if the cleanup is a significant cost," he said.
However, some of the cost burden could be shared by others involved in the construction and ownership of the building on the hazardous waste site, depending upon a review now being made by the city's legal department, Zuhl said.
The city is now reviewing ownership and construction records to "see what the genesis of the problem was," Assistant City Attorney Bruce Baird said.