Residents Push for More Time to Comment on Quinn's Junction Contaminated Soil Landfill

May 3, 2021

The Gordo property, the site of a new proposed contaminated soil dump, lies east of Park City in Quinn's Junction.

The deadline to submit comments on a proposed contaminated soil landfill at Quinn’s Junction is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4 – however, last-minute concerns being raised by the public and at least one Summit County Councilor is asking city officials to delay the deadline.


Even though Park City Municipal has been talking about the landfill slated to go out on what’s known as the Gordo property for more than a year now, concerned residents are just learning about it. The repository would be built on city-owned property near Quinn’s Junction, where some 35,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil due to historic mining operations has already been deposited. It’s estimated the city will add another 35,000 to 50,000 cubic yards as it prepares the Arts and Culture district for development. 


As with landfill construction, a large pit will be dug then lined and eventually capped once it’s been filled. 


The bulk of the 22 acres is zoned for residential development. Some of the property was purchased using open space bond funds and is zoned as recreational open space. 


A year ago, the city received word from the Division of Waste Management and Radioactive Control that a contaminated soils repository in that location would be an appropriate use for the property. The property is also being considered as the permanent recyclable materials processing facility for Recycle Utah.


Critics have paid to send out robocalls telling residents that they must send an email to the Department of Environmental Quality before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4th. 


“Hello, this is a courtesy call to let you know about a new landfill for contaminated soils that may soon becoming the Park City. The proposed landfill was tentatively approved by Utah's division of waste management and Radiation Control, but there's still time to stop it.”


Summit County council member Roger Armstrong declined an interview request from KPCW but did point to a Facebook post he wrote detailing his concerns. He said he doesn’t think the city’s plan was fully disclosed to the county council – especially since the proposed facility sits near the county’s border and relates to its ongoing soil cleanup efforts.


Armstrong added in the post that he’s not suggesting that the city’s plan is either good or terrible. But he is urging residents to request critical information from the city before the initiative moves further.


Armstrong doesn’t think the city did a good job reaching out to residents and asking them if they wanted a hazardous waste facility to be opened and operated. If the city had, Armstrong thinks it would have led to a robust discussion with experts providing insight as to the public health risk, costs, and administrative burdens. 


Armstrong is requesting that the Park City Mayor Andy Beerman and the city council extend the public comment period to allow for more public discussion.

 

The city held an impromptu Zoom gathering last week to answer questions after the robocall went out - but without a lot of promotion, only a handful of residents participated. Beerman is steering residents to the city’s website for more accurate information.


“Anyone that has questions on that, I encourage them to go to the city website,” he said. “We've posted some FAQs about what we're doing out there and what is myth and what is true and they're welcome to reach out, but the short version of that is, is we need we have soils all over town for a decade-plus we've been looking for a safe place to put those and so we've been temporarily storing those soils for that decade on the Gordo parcel, working with the EPA and the state we decided the best thing to do is to put aligned class one landfill in there and storm right on site, as well as additional soils from road projects, the arts and culture and probably make that available for small residential projects.”


According to Matt Twombly, Park City’s senior manager of the repository, it’s costing the city $1.2 million for the first phase of construction. That includes all of the construction to build the cell, as well as capping it and revegetating it. The first cell would take care of the 35,000 cubic yards of material that’s out there plus what’s expected to come from the Arts and Culture district.


The landfill could not be used by commercial developers unless the city partnered with a private developer to do a housing development on city land. 


For all future phases, the city is required to budget for the closure which Twombly says has been done. It was estimated that it would cost the city about $5 million to haul the dirt from the Arts and Culture district to the Tooele repository instead of to a local repository.


For now, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comments via email through Tuesday, May 4 at 5 p.m. 


To comment, send an email to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov with the subject line “Public comment on Park City soils management facility class one landfill draft permit.”