A civil suit intended to force cleanup of a chemically contaminated industrial site in northern Salt Lake City has been endorsed by the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee.

The committee authorized the Utah Attorney General's office to proceed with filing the action against PetroChem, a company that operated a refinery and a petroleum recycling plant at 1628 N. Chicago until last March. The company has been ordered to cleanup the site and the company signed an agreement to accomplish the work last year. Since that time, little progress has been made.In December, the Environmental Protection Agency moved in to direct a cleanup operation. That effort was sabotaged by two vandalism incidents in which spigots on chemical storage tanks were opened. In both instances, EPA crews were able to impound the chemicals before they spread from the site.

The anticipated civil action will include allegations that PetroChem failed to obtain the proper interim permits to operate the plant, that hazardous waste was stored in improper containers which began to leak, that the company failed to follow through on agreed to remedial actions, and that the company failed to comply with state and federal regulations.

In addition to seeking final cleanup at the site, the suit will seek civil penalties to cover the costs of the litigation and state expenses in enforcing the order.