Multiple environmental investigations have been conducted at the Kennecott Mill Town in the past, identifying various potential hazards or risks associated with the historical mining and ore processing operations. Those include the historic use of lead- and arsenic-based paint on buildings; the use of asbestos-containing insulation; the presence of mill tailings containing elevated arsenic; oil and grease spills; and blasting caps and fuses from the historical operations on the north side of the Mill Building and on the moraine west of the Leach Plant. The areas containing blasting caps have been fenced and signed for visitor safety. In addition, because area soils and dust on surfaces both inside and outside of Mill Town buildings contain contaminants such as lead, arsenic, and asbestos, the National Park Service (NPS) recommends that all park visitors and members of the public practice good personal hygiene when in the Mill Town area by keeping hands away from the nose, eyes, and mouth until they can be washed with soap and water. To encourage this, NPS has supplied and maintains hand-washing stations at key locations within the Mill Town, including at the base of the Mill Building (where guided tours exit the building). NPS also maintains signage at several locations within the Mill Town to warn visitors to avoid contact with area soils due to the presence of remaining on-Site contaminants.
CERCLA and NPS Authority
NPS is authorized under CERCLA to respond as the Lead Agency to a release or threatened release of harmful substances and/or a release of any pollutant or contaminant that may present an imminent and substantial danger to public health or welfare on or from land under the jurisdiction, custody or control of the NPS. CERCLA provides a thorough site investigation and cleanup framework that can take many years to complete. Additional information regarding the CERCLA cleanup process can be found at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website:
NPS Cleanup Framework Phases
Phase 1 - Site Scoping - Complete
Anticipated CERCLA Milestones
Phase 3 - Cleanup Action Implementation
Anticipated CERCLA Milestones
Anticipated CERCLA Milestones
The NPS is conducting the Remedial Investigation (RI) at the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site under CERCLA. An RI is the in-depth study of a contaminated site conducted to characterize the nature and extent of contamination and assess whether the contamination presents a significant risk to human health or the environment. Due to the complexity of the site, the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site RI is anticipated to include multiple phases of field work that will include sampling of environmental media (e.g., air, soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment) to support the evaluation of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances stemming from the historic mining and ore processing operations. Field work associated with the first phase of the RI (Phase I) at the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site is scheduled to being in the summer of 2021. NPS has supplied and maintains hand-washing stations at key locations within the Mill Town, including near the Visitor Center and at the base of the Mill Building.
In 2020, the NPS began to scope the Remedial Investigation (RI) activities and develop a Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) that will guide the on-site RI data collection efforts for Phase I of the RI. The NPS intends to perform sampling within the Kennecott Mill Town portion of the site as part of Phase I. Based on the historical data and operations at the site, the following field sampling activities will be conducted during the summer of 2021:
This field work will be performed by teams of two to five people on the site at a time. Visitors to the park between June and September may observe sampling activities. Sampling activities are not anticipated to affect any recreational opportunities for visitors. The results of Phase I RI will be documented in a Phase I RI report that will include recommendations and identified data gaps for subsequent phases of the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site RI investigation. Once all areas of the site have been thoroughly investigated, a comprehensive site-wide RI report will be prepared to document the results of all field investigation phases and, based upon the data collected, present an evaluation of potential risks to human health and the environment. The results presented in the site-wide RI Report will provide the foundation for how the NPS will evaluate cleanup alternatives in the FS Report to ensure site conditions are protective of human health and the environment and current and potential future site uses. The NPS will then develop a Proposed Plan for public review and comment, which will outline the preferred cleanup option identified for the site. Public feedback will be sought and considered prior to finalization of the Proposed Plan, which will be documented in the site Record of Decision (ROD). Once the ROD is finalized, the NPS will prepare the Remedial Design and commence Remedial Action in all areas of the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site determined to require cleanup.
Community Involvement is a very important aspect of the CERCLA process. Community involvement ensures that the members of the public affected by a site undergoing investigation and cleanup under CERCLA, such as the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site, have a say in the process, a right-to-know what the agency, NPS, is doing to address the contamination, and provide input into the decision-making process. Early and meaningful communication with affected community members is the goal of the community involvement process, which occurs throughout the lifecycle of the NPS Cleanup Framework. The Community Involvement Plan (CIP) is a resource to enable meaningful community involvement. It serves as a guide for the NPS to inform and engage community members, government officials, the media, and other interested parties in the environmental investigation and cleanup activities at the site. As such, it is a living document that is updated and revised as appropriate, as site conditions and events change. The ways in which the NPS encourages communication with the public are described in detail in the CIP. The CIP and other documents that will be considered or relied upon in the selection of a response action to address the contamination at the site are part of the Administrative Record File.
As the Kennecott Mines and Mill Town Site investigation proceeds pursuant to CERCLA, there will be more opportunities for involvement in the process.To stay informed and engaged you can:
Last updated: December 15, 2021