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Wasatch Back manufacturing generates less pollution than rest of Utah, new EPA data shows

In this Dec. 14, 2018, photo, an inversion settles over Salt Lake City. Inversions hover over Salt Lake City as cold, stagnant air settles in the bowl-shaped mountain basins, trapping tailpipe and other emissions that have no way of escaping to create a brown, murky haze the engulfs the metro area. Doctors warn that breathing the polluted air can cause lung problems and other health concerns, especially for pregnant women and people with respiratory issues. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer
Salt Lake County led the state in TRI chemicals in 2022, releasing a total of 152.51 million pounds.

A mine between Promontory and Rockport released nearly 2,000 pounds of lead into the air in 2022, a drop in the bucket statewide.

The EPA requires certain types of manufacturers and businesses to report how much they pollute as part of its “Toxics Release Inventory,” or TRI.

TRI chemicals are those the EPA deems dangerous to humans or the environment, and in 2020 it added PFAS to the list. These per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals are used for waterproofing, among other things, but were recently deemed toxic.

The agency finalized the 2022 TRI National Analysis Thursday [March 21], including data from the Wasatch Back.

Wasatch County doesn’t have any businesses that report TRI chemicals to the EPA, and Summit County has two: Geneva Rock on Old Highway 40 and Utelite mine in Three Mile Canyon.

According to the data, Utah releases the fifth most TRI chemicals of any U.S. state or territory. But that pollution isn’t happening in Summit County.

About 90% of counties nationwide release more TRI chemicals than Summit County, Utah.

The EPA only has 2022 data for Summit County, and in that year, Geneva Rock did not report releasing any TRI chemicals into the land, air or water.

In 2022, Utelite’s Three Mile Canyon mine, which is located between Rockport Reservoir and Promontory, reported releasing 1,875 pounds of lead into the air.

That was the only reported TRI chemical release in the whole county.

That’s compared to counties like Salt Lake and Tooele which reported releasing tens of millions of pounds of TRI chemicals in 2022. Most of Salt Lake County’s TRI pollution comes from the Kennecott mine facility; the Kilgore quarry in Parleys Canyon does not report TRI chemicals.

The EPA said, nationwide, companies are releasing fewer TRI chemicals than they were in 2013. Pollution was down 21% in 2022, including a 26% decrease in air pollution compared to 2013.

2023 data isn’t available yet.

The EPA publishes a “Where You Live” mapping tool, which allows the public to see TRI chemical releases near them. Click here to view the map.

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