Utah health officials approved a monitoring and probable cleanup program Tuesday to deal with hazardous waste that leaked into groundwater at Hercules Bacchus Works, Magna.
If approved after a 30-day public comment period, the program will cost millions of dollars to correct past waste problems at Hercules. Hercules started making explosives at the Magna plant in 1914 and has manufactured solid-rocket motors there since 1958.The announcement came at a meeting of the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee. Chairman Joseph Urbanic said this is one of four consent agreements reached with various companies. The Hercules agreement is the most far-reaching.
Under the agreement, Hercules will pay the State Health Department $150,000 immediately, set aside $50,000 more for cleanup and
oversight, and use an additional $15,000 as a contribution to a voluntary hazardous waste cleanup fund.
Brent Bradford, director of the Utah Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Wastes, said $100,000 more is held as a kind of insurance to make certain the project is carried out. Money will be freed from that account as steps in the cleanup are completed.
Originally, 10 sumps that receive waste water were cited as violating state rules. But after the sumps and a Hercules landfill were studied, the total number of sumps with problems reached 72.
Under the agreement, Hercules will conduct further studies at its Bacchus East facilities to determine if ground water there has been affected. If corrections are needed, the company will propose a solution to the Health Department.
Hercules will also build a new wastewater treatment plant to remove explosives from wastes before discharging water into a sewage plant.
Jack McCord, division director at the Bacchus Works, estimates the whole package will cost Hercules "tens of millions of dollars," but probably less than $50 million.
McCord told the committee, "Everything we've done to date does not indicate involvement with the environment outside the plant's boundaries." Later, he told the Deseret News that studies thus far have been confined to the plant.
Bradford said negotiations on the agreement were going on until 6 p.m. Friday.
Ken Alkema, director of the state Environmental Health Division, said the agreement is a major accomplishment. Bradford told Alkema he believes Hercules is now managing hazardous wastes in a much better way.
McCord said the cleanup will only take place if the studies show it is needed, but it is likely to be necessary.