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Roughly 40% of Treasure Mountain Junior High soil piles have been removed

Treasure Mountain Junior High soil piles during the first phase of removal.
Kristine Weller
Crews cover the larger soil pile behind Treasure Mountain Junior High with uncontaminated dirt after the first phase of removal.

The first round of soil removal at Treasure Mountain Junior High is coming to an end and the smaller pile has been completely removed.

There are two soil piles behind Treasure Mountain that environmental regulators say contain heightened levels of lead and arsenic. The larger pile has been there since 2017 and the smaller pile has been there since 2022.

The soil was moved there to facilitate construction projects at McPolin Elementary. However, the location of the piles and the length of time they have been there violated city and state codes. So, they must be removed.

Treasure Mountain has been roped off to the public since Dec. 17 so crews could start the removal process.

Stephen Galley is the vice president of the company R and R Environmental which is doing the work. He said roughly 40% of the soil is gone with about 35 truckloads of soil being removed each day.

Galley estimates there need to be two more rounds of work. They would be during Park City School District's February break from Feb. 20 to Feb. 24 and during spring break from April 10 to April 14.

Galley said the crew followed specific regulations when removing the soil piles, including testing for lead levels. While the soil has heightened levels of both lead and arsenic, lead levels are higher.

“I'm testing for lead in most of my locations," he said. "I know if I can get below limits on lead, everything else is going to come down with it.”

The smaller soil pile was removed first because it had more contaminated soil. It’s now completely gone and has an eight-inch layer of uncontaminated dirt on top of the site.

Park City only requires a six-inch buffer, but Galley increased the standard. He did the same with the lead and wind regulations. Park City requires the lead levels in the uncontaminated soil put on top of the piles to be less than 200 parts per million. Galley requires them to be less than 100 parts per million.

The soil being used to cap the contaminated soil is imported from Heber and Galley said it has tested around 10 parts per million.

The Materials Management Plan also requires the wind to be less than 35 miles per hour to work on removal, but Galley requires less than 25 miles per hour.

“The worst day we had was the Tuesday of last week, where it kind of gusted at 12 to 15 miles per hour. It's tough to put tarps in line trucks when you have the wind blow even at 15 miles an hour.”

The wind requirements are also meant to prevent dust. However, Galley said there hasn’t been any dust. That meant they didn’t have to use water to wet the soil, which saved money.

Thursday was the last day soil was removed. Crews then started covering the larger pile with an eight-inch soil buffer.

“If you were to lift that up, it would kind of lift like concrete and big chunks like that. Because it compacts real hard," Galley said. "That's why we chose it. The objective is to make sure it stays there.”

Crews will finish cleanup on Friday by sweeping away dirt trails left by the transport trucks. Park City School District is on winter break, and no one was available for comment.