Environmental Response & Remediation
2016 State of the Environment Report

The Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) is committed to cleaning up properties to protect human health and the environment, ensuring that underground storage tanks are used properly, delivering exceptional customer service, and forming collaborative partnerships with businesses and stakeholders. Program objectives include:

  • Assessment and cleanup of contaminated properties to protect human health and the environment and to help return the lands to beneficial reuse
  • Prevention of spill release through compliance inspections of underground storage tanks (USTs)
  • Improvements to program operational efficiencies
  • Easier access to agency documents
  • Community involvement in cleanup decisions

DERR provides oversight for Superfund cleanups, administers the Voluntary Cleanup and Brownfields programs, and regulates Underground Storage Tanks (USTs). These programs serve to protect human health and the environment and to help return property to beneficial reuse. The division has had great success in preventing petroleum releases from USTs, remediating contaminated lands, and revitalizing areas through these programs.

Underground Storage Tank Program

Installation of underground storage tanks at a gas station.

There are 4,049 underground storage tanks (USTs) in the state of Utah. Nearly seventy-eight percent of these tanks utilize the Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund as their financial assurance mechanism for the assessment and cleanup of releases. The UST program focuses on prevention through inspection and compliance follow-up. In the event of a release, DERR oversees the cleanups to ensure that state standards are met. The division also conducts UST cleanups where the responsible party is unknown, unwilling, or unable to conduct the cleanup themselves to assure that contaminated sites are ultimately cleaned up.

In 2016, DERR UST staff conducted over 880 compliance inspections. UST owner/operators in the state have a 94 percent compliance rate within 60 days of the time of inspection. While more than 72 new release sites were reported this year, over 90 reported release sites were remediated and closed, paving the way for some properties to be developed for a better and higher use.

Capitol Hill Tank Replacement

Legislation sponsored by Representative Steve Eliason in 2015 provided monetary incentives to owners of underground storage tanks to swap out tanks that posed a contamination risk from gasoline or diesel leaks. The tank at the State Capitol became a priority for removal after failing a test of the corrosion prevention system for the fuel lines. DERR staff were present during the excavation and noted that the tank itself didn’t appear to be leaking, but environmental samples will confirm that observation. The division works closely with owners to ensure that underground storage tanks are compliant with all regulations, proactive in replacing risky tanks before they present a hazard, and are appropriately insured to cover cleanup costs if a leaking tank contaminates soils or ground water.


Brownfields include property where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. The assessment and cleanup of these sites is a significant step in returning Brownfields properties to beneficial reuse.

EPA Awards Brownfields Grants

Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) grants assist communities with redevelopment of Brownfields. Three Utah applicants were awarded Brownfields ARC grant funding in May 2016. DERR assisted the parties by reviewing the grant proposals, providing technical comments, and issuing letters of support.

Community-wide Assessment Grants

Provo City and the Uintah Basin Association of Governments (UBAOG) were awarded community-wide assessment grants. Grant funds will be used to assess various properties, create a Brownfields inventory, prepare area-wide plans, and support community outreach and involvement activities. Funding will address both petroleum and hazardous substances.

“Provo City has a very long and productive working relationship with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality staff members at various levels. Bill Rees and Brent Everett, in particular, have provided invaluable insight and assistance in moving former Brownfields sites from abandoned and stagnate to remediation and economically productive. It has been a partnership of getting things done. With an eye to not only protecting the environment, DEQ staff have helped Provo City navigate the details of grant opportunities and funding to working through the challenges of post-remediation site management plans and keeping projects moving during construction.” — Dixon Holmes, Deputy Mayor, Provo City

Cleanup Grant

Centro Civico Mexicano, a nonprofit organization, was awarded a cleanup grant to help fund the removal of impacted soil from its property in downtown Salt Lake City so it could build affordable senior housing and a civic center on the site. Centro Civico is currently in the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). The organization received additional funding through the Wasatch Coalition Revolving Loan Fund to help the cleanup move forward.

“If it wasn’t for DEQ, this project would have never happened. We are so appreciative of DEQ’s assistance with our application for the Brownfields grant. The staff met with us, gave us advice, and helped us every step of the way. The environmental cleanup is essential for the Centro Civico Mexicano Redevelopment to move forward, and we are grateful for DEQ’s support in making it possible.” — Brandy Farmer, President/CEO Centro Civico Mexicano

Voluntary Cleanup Program

Park City Heights after the Cleanup

The Utah Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) was created to promote the voluntary cleanup of contaminated sites and encourage redevelopment of Brownfields and other impacted properties through a streamlined cleanup program. The VCP provides communities and businesses with an effective way to partner with DEQ to find solutions for difficult environmental challenges on contaminated properties. This highly successful program protects public health and the environment and helps return impacted properties to beneficial reuse, which in turn creates new economic opportunities for affected communities.

Park City Heights Voluntary Cleanup Site

The Park City Heights VCP site is located in Summit County. The property was initially thought to be undisturbed, but further investigation prior to development showed it contained a surface canal and buried pipelines. In 2012, the property was purchased by a private developer who entered into the VCP. Site characterization revealed soils impacted with lead and arsenic as well as a second canal containing contaminated materials. Upon completion of the site characterization, a public comment period was conducted and a remedy implemented to address contamination across the site. Approximately 89,000 cubic yards of metals-impacted soils were excavated and consolidated in an onsite, engineered repository.

A Certificate of Completion was issued in 2016 after the vegetation on the repository cover was completely established, and a site management plan and environmental covenant finalized. The property, with the exception of the repository area, is currently being developed for residential use. The VCP has been an important tool for protecting public health and the environment and facilitating development of additional housing in the Park City area.

Ogden Business Exchange VCP Site

The historic Ogden Stockyards were established around 1905. Over the years, millions of head of livestock passed through the facility. The stockyards were eventually closed in 1971, and the property was used for various other purposes. Storage of drums, containers, engines, vehicles, scrap piles, and railroad ties created a significant amount of environmental uncertainty that became an impediment to redevelopment efforts.

Ogden City used funding from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Community-Wide Assessment grant to perform a Phase II Site Assessment at the property. The assessment provided information the city needed to apply for an Enforceable Written Assurance (EWA) from DEQ to facilitate cleanup and redevelopment.

A Reasonable Step as part of the EWA was for the city to complete response actions under the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), so Ogden applied to the VCP in July 2014. To assist the city, the cleanup was phased, and field work commenced on Phase I after a cleanup plan was developed and public comment completed. Upon completion of the work, a “No Further Action” letter was issued. This allowed construction of a new commercial facility slated for completion in 2016. Field work on other portions of the site was also conducted in 2016, and a site-wide Certificate of Completion is anticipated upon completion of final reporting.

Ogden applied to the Voluntary Cleanup Program in July 2014 as a Reasonable Step for completing response actions under the EWA. Minutes from downtown, the new business park will not only provide a new tax base for the city but a recreation destination as well.

Superfund (CERCLA)

DERR’s Superfund (CERCLA) Branch performs site assessments of potentially contaminated sites to determine whether or not they pose a threat to human health and the environment and require further action, including possible placement on the Federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The Branch also manages or performs oversight of investigation and remediation activities at Superfund sites, including NPL sites and federal facility sites.

700 South 1600 East PCE Plume Site

The 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume was detected during routine sampling of the Mount Olivet irrigation well. The suspected source of the tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination is historic dry-cleaning operations at the nearby Veterans Affairs Medical Hospital.

The Veterans Administration (VA) Remedial Team, as part of its Phase 1 field work, conducted indoor air vapor testing, outdoor air testing, and near-slab soil gas sampling at 36 residences in the area between January and April of 2015. None of the samples were above the removal action level, but they did confirm the contamination and helped define the areas most impacted.

Phase 2 field work began in February 2016, with the VA conducting the same testing at additional homes. One home showed PCE above the removal action level, and the VA worked with the property owner to install a vapor mitigation system. Ground water samples were collected from 42 temporary locations; 10 of these locations still serve as temporary monitoring locations. In May 2016, VA contractors collected surface water and stormwater samples throughout the area. These data will be used to write a Remedial Investigation Report to evaluate the potential risk to human health and the environment from contaminated ground water.

The VA has developed a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) to facilitate communication between the VA and community members. Public involvement activities under the CIP include informational meetings, community council briefings, and opportunities for stakeholder involvement in the study and remediation process. DEQ, EPA, and the VA coordinate community involvement to ensure that residents are continuously updated and informed of cleanup plans and activities.

Five Points PCE Plume

Woods Cross City completed construction of a drinking-water treatment plant in 2015 to clean the PCE-contaminated water found in three city wells. DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water assisted Woods Cross City through the authorization of $4.5 million from the Drinking Water Board for construction of the treatment plant.

The Five Points PCE Plume, located in Woods Cross, North Salt Lake, and Bountiful, is a ground water plume of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) that likely originated at a dry-cleaning facility in Bountiful from a leaking sewer pipe. PCE was first detected above the maximum contaminant level in a Woods Cross City drinking-water well in 1996. Woods Cross City completed construction of a drinking water treatment plant in 2015 to clean contaminated water found in three city wells.

The EPA, with DEQ concurrence, issued a Record of Decision in August 2016 to extract, contain, and treat ground water. The selected remedy includes:

  • Installation of a system to extract PCE-contaminated ground water at the plume core and toe (lower end)
  • Hydraulic containment of contaminated ground water at the plume core and toe
  • Treatment of the extracted ground water and discharge to an offsite wastewater treatment plant
  • Restoration of the groundwater as a drinking-water source
  • Implementation of institutional controls (ICs) that discourage drilling and installation of new wells until remedial actions and cleanup goals have been achieved

Jacobs Smelter

The Jacobs Smelter site is located within Rush Valley, Tooele County, near the town of Stockton, Utah. The smelting and mining activity at the site occurred primarily in the 1860s and 1870s, leaving behind heavy-metal contamination of the soils, mill tailings, and smelter wastes. Lead and arsenic contamination at the site is present at concentrations that pose a significant risk to human health and the environment.

DEQ and EPA conducted a public meeting for the community in October 2015 to present the proposed cleanup plan for Operable Unit 2 (OU2) of the site, an 85-acre area affected by the former Waterman Smelter. Both agencies recommended excavation and disposal of contaminated soil as the preferred alternative for addressing lead and arsenic contamination on residential and undeveloped lands within OU2.

The Record of Decision (ROD) for the contaminated area was issued in September 2016. The ROD requires excavation and offsite disposal of soils that exceed lead and arsenic cleanup levels designated for residential, commercial, and undeveloped areas (up to a maximum depth of 18 inches), followed by the replacement of excavated soil with clean topsoil and revegetation of excavated areas. Institutional controls (ICs) will be put into place to ensure that the remediation continues to be protective of human health and the environment.

Community Involvement

DERR is committed to effective community outreach and works diligently to involve residents, property owners, elected officials, and health agencies in cleanup decisions for Superfund sites. Listening to community concerns and building strong relationships helps the division collect and disseminate information about the site and find workable solutions for cleaning up contaminated areas.

Public involvement is crucial to the success of a Superfund cleanup project. DERR’s community involvement activities are designed to:

  • Inform the public of the nature of the environmental issues associated with the site
  • Involve the public in evaluating the responses under consideration to remedy these issues
  • Involve the public in the decision-making process that will affect them
  • Inform the public of the progress being made to implement the remedy

DEQ has been working with residents affected by the 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume site in Salt Lake City, the Five Points PCE Plume in Woods Cross/North Salt Lake, and the Jacobs Smelter site in Stockton.

Continuous Improvement/SUCCESS Framework

DERR is committed to continuous improvement to improve performance and implement innovations that advance operational quality, efficiency, and effectiveness. DERR employs technological tools to increase public access to information and improve operational efficiencies.

The DEQ Interactive Map

Provides a web-based tool to help the public locate information about Superfund sites, Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) sites, Brownfields, underground storage tanks and areas with potential contamination. The revised Interactive Map, designed to be more user-friendly and comprehensive, was released to the public April 2015. The new mapping tool offers location-based information for everything from permits to Superfund sites.

UST tracking system

Reports the rate at which owners meet underground storage tank (UST) program requirements

Database-driven reminder system

Alerts tank operators when their tank tests are due

Increased uploads of documents into the agency’s electronic documents system (eDocs)

Ensures that the public, businesses, and environmental consultants have easy access to the documents they need

An underground storage tank (UST) tablet inspection app

Increases efficiencies in conducting and following up on tank compliance inspections

Online tank portal for underground storage tank certification and operator training registration

Facilitates operator registration for certification and training

PST Fund program tool

Tracks the status of every site covered under the Fund along with next steps for site cleanup

VCP program Efficiency Project

Ensures the VCP program is operating efficiently through development of a project to quantify efficiency under the Continuous Improvement/SUCCESS Framework.

Tier 2 Submission Portal

Provides an online submission portal for Emergency Planning and the Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) Tier 2 Chemical Facilities information to ensure that the geographic location of facilities is accurate and the public can search the database easily.

The Numbers

  • Number of Superfund Remedial Sites: 26
  • Number of Sites needing assessment (pre-remedial): 45
  • Number of Active Voluntary Cleanup Sites (characterization, remediation, and site management): 36
  • Enforceable Written Assurances issued (total to date): 90
  • Number of Emergency Incidents Reported 2016 (to date): 315 as of November 11, 2016
  • Number of Emergency Incidents Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016): 405
  • Number of USTs in Utah (Active Tanks): 4049
  • Number of USTs on the PST Fund: 2735
  • Open LUST sites: 365
  • LUST Sites Closed (calendar year to date): 88
  • LUST Sites Closed (State Fiscal year 2016): 98

UTAH Toxic Release Inventory General Release Numbers Reporting Year (RY) 2015

RY20158,300,000 lbs110,000 lbs281,800,000 lbs229,200,000 lbs
RY20146,400,000 lbs126,100 lbs200,200,000 lbs209,400,000 lbs
Change+1,900,000+16,100+18,600,000 lbs+19,800,000 lbs
% Change29.69 %12.77 %9.29 %9.46 %