NRD Claim & Resulting Consent Decree
In 1986, the State of Utah filed a Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Claim against Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation (Kennecott) for groundwater damage in the southwest Jordan Valley area, and reached a settlement agreement regarding compensation to the State for the groundwater contamination in 1990.
Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (Jordan Valley Water) did not agree with the proposed consent decree, and intervened in federal court in 1990-1991. Jordan Valley Water’s intervention, together with subsequent negotiations with Kennecott and the State, led to a final and more acceptable NRD Consent Decree in 1995. The 1995 Natural Resource Damage Consent Decree (1995 NRD CD) was approved by a federal judge. It required a compensation payment, in cash and a letter of credit, of $36 million from Kennecott. In addition Kennecott was required to:
- Complete the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study in response to the
requirements of the Federal Superfund program.
- Complete the installation and operate an extraction well(s) in the acidic core of the Zone A plume and equip it to extract a minimum of 400 acre-feet per year to begin containment of the plume.
- Complete the construction of additional source control measures specifically described as the eastside collection system and the Bingham Canyon cut-off wall system.
Kennecott provided the compensation payment to the State of Utah, which created a Trust Fund to be used by the Trustee to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of the lost resource (in this case the respective volume of groundwater impacted). Kennecott also completed the other three requirements (for more information please refer to the State of Utah’s webpage, http://www.deq.utah.gov/businesses/kennecott/nrd/index.htm/index.htm).
Dianne R Nielson, Ph.D. is the State of Utah Natural Resource Damage Trustee and has the responsibility for approving project plans and releasing the Trust Fund for use during the implementation of the project. Her role is to ensure that under the 2004 Three Party Agreement (as amended in 2009) Kennecott and Jordan Valley Water comply with the municipal quality water provision conditions under this Agreement.
Joint Proposal for Remediation
Jordan Valley Water and Kennecott developed a Joint Proposal in 1999 to satisfy the 1995 NRD CD. Various discussions with four affected cities and the State Trustee (Dr. Dianne Nielson) led to modifications of the Joint Proposal, made during 2000 to 2004. A final Joint Proposal was accepted by the State of Utah Natural Resource Damage Trustee in June 2004 (as noted under the 2004 Three Party Agreement). Please refer to http://www.deq.utah.gov/businesses/kennecott/nrd/index.htm/documents.htm.
The project described in the Joint Proposal will operate for 40 years after construction, and will accomplish the following:
- Keep the contamination plumes from expanding, and then shrink them.
- Remove contamination from the aquifer.
- Produce 8235 acre-feet per year of treated water for municipal use.
Elements of the Joint Proposal
Elements of the Joint Proposal to clean up contaminated groundwater and provide municipal-quality drinking water to the public in the affected area (defined as the communities of West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton and Herriman) are designed to meet three objectives:
- Containment of the groundwater plumes
- Remediation of the groundwater contamination
- Production of municipal drinking water
These objectives will be met through the construction and operation of deep groundwater wells and reverse osmosis treatment plants. Kennecott is operating the facilities for the Zone A (west) plume and Jordan Valley Water will operate the facilities for the Zone B (east) plume. The Zone A facilities have been in operation since May 2006.
Operation of the Zone B project facilities includes:
- Pumping well water from the Zone B plume via pipelines to a reverse osmosis treatment plant.
- Utilizing reverse osmosis treatment to produce municipal-quality water in compliance with Utah Primary and Secondary drinking water standards.
- Conveying (via a pipeline and a pump station) byproduct water from the reverse osmosis plant to the Great Salt Lake (if permitted) or Kennecott’s North Tailings Impoundment in Magna, Utah.
- Conveying the municipal quality water to the affected area. These facilities can be seen on the project map.
Some well owners in the affected areas have had concerns about the contamination. Cities, state agencies and environmental groups have expressed interest in the groundwater project. A stakeholder forum was established to address these issues and to provide a communications forum. For additional details of the Stakeholders Forum activities, please visit http://www.deq.utah.gov/businesses/kennecott/nrd/index.htm/prior_meetings.htm.
UPDES Permit Application
If permitted, the Byproduct water from the treatment process will be conveyed via a 21-mile pipeline into the Great Salt Lake. A Utah Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit is required to be issued by the Utah Division of Water Quality before such action can take place. Jordan Valley Water has applied for a permit. Information about this proposed permit is available here: http://www.deq.utah.gov/Issues/hottopics/swjvgwtp/swjvgwtp.htm.