CORINNE, Box Elder County Stinky Springs, closed after a California man died in August, will be reopened to the public but with restrictions and despite health officials' warnings.
The natural hot sulfur springs near Little Mountain in west Corinne were closed in October after questions were raised about the Aug. 20 death of Herman Santifer, 66, Oakland, Calif., which was attributed to drowning.
Ben Ferry and his family, owners of the property, barred access pending a study of carbon dioxide levels by health officials.
The Bear River Health Department concluded that carbon dioxide levels were not exceedingly high. However, the high water temperature and high level of hydrogen sulfide gas caused the department to say the "water is not acceptable for human bathing."
The hydrogen sulfide gives the water a rotten-egg smell from which the site got its name. The springs have been used for more than 100 years with different versions of bathhouses.
Hydrogen sulfide levels at 50 parts per million begin to cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract.
Levels 100 ppm or higher are considered "immediately dangerous to life or health." At this level the bather's senses ignore the odor. The gas prevents cells from carrying out functions necessary for life. The person may experience difficulty breathing and an irregular heartbeat. All of these symptoms are compounded by heat.
Each of the bathing stalls built at the springs showed hydrogen sulfide levels between 43 and 96 ppm. At the point where the water enters the bathhouse, levels were at 370 ppm.
Water temperatures ranged from 109.7 degrees to 114 degrees. The standard for a public swimming facility hot tub is a maximum of 105 degrees.
Both the levels of the gas and the temperature were shown to be higher when covered.
The Health Department reported that "neither the water nor the facility meet minimum health standards for bathing, and permits will not be issued."
Ferry said he will allow the springs to be reopened with the understanding that individuals who use the spring do so at their own risk. Ferry said he will post a sign warning users.
The bathhouse at the springs was built without Ferry's permission or knowledge. Ferry said the tarps covering the entrances to the stalls will be removed. The roof will be removed to increase air circulation.
"It is our intent to allow individuals continued access to a natural geological wonder (that) in their judgment, provides relief for numerous ailments for which modern medicine offers no relief," he said.