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Radon in Utah Homes: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

By Jan Poulsen, Guest Blogger

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

radon

DEQ’s Radon Coordinator and I make presentations about radon across the Salt Lake Valley. I share my story about the health risks of radon and talk with residents about the importance of testing their homes.

My name is Jan Poulsen, and I am a lung cancer survivor. I want to share my story in the hopes that it might prevent even one person from getting lung cancer. We have all heard many times that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. But did you know that the second leading cause of lung cancer is radon gas? Each year, approximately 160,000 Americans die from lung cancer, and about 22,000 of those die from radon-induced lung cancer.

I’m one of those people whose lung cancer was caused by exposure to high levels of radon in their home. In May 2007, I got a phone call from the doctor who had performed a biopsy on a mass in my lung. He said, “I am sorry to tell you that you have lung cancer, and it is inoperable. I would say you have about four months to live.”

Lung cancer? But I had never smoked!

I made an appointment with an oncologist, and the next thing, I knew, I was in the hospital about to have my entire right lung removed. I underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments following the surgery. It took some time, but I slowly got my strength back. I was found cancer-free after five years and released. Then, during my sixth year of remission, an MRI showed a very large tumor in the front of my brain and a smaller tumor in the back of my brain, most likely due to the spread of the lung cancer. I had brain surgery to remove the large tumor, and a month later had a radiation procedure, to remove the smaller tumor. I was in remission until November 2014, when I had to have the radiation procedure again to remove 6 more tumors from my brain. I have been told by my physicians that I am currently in remission.

Lung cancer is the “bad boy” of cancers.  It is the deadliest of all cancers and kills more people annually than the next four cancers — breast, colon, pancreatic, and prostate — combined. People assume that if you have lung cancer, you must be a smoker, but that’s not true. There are no routine screenings for lung cancer, and many times there are no symptoms. So by the time it is detected, it is at stage 3 or 4 and has already spread.

So how does radon fit into the picture?

radon

Click on photo for a larger view

Radon is a naturally occurring gas caused by the decomposition of uranium-bearing granite in our soil.  It is all around us, but becomes dangerous when it becomes concentrated in our airtight homes.  You can’t see, smell, or taste it, and unlike carbon monoxide, it does not make you sick immediately.

As I said earlier, my lung cancer was caused by radon gas.  Shortly after my diagnosis, we had our home tested for radon.  An earlier test when we bought the home came in at 2.2 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).  After a big remodel and digging a walk-out basement, our second test came back at 24.9 pCi/L, six times the EPA-recommended action level! Apparently disturbing the soil and knocking out walls created new avenues for radon to enter our home. We had a mitigation system installed, which brought our radon level down to 1.7 pCi/L.

The only way to know if your home is safe from radon is to test it. There is an easy short-term test that you can order from the Department of Environmental Quality. The kit costs about $9 and includes the processing fee. Just follow the directions on the package, leave it in your basement or lowest level of your home for two to four days, mail it in, and wait for the company to email you the results. If the level is higher than 4.0 pCi/L, you will want to contact a certified radon mitigation expert to do further testing or install a radon mitigation system.

Mitigation isn’t as expensive as you may think. It can typically can be done for $1500 or less.  The cost of my lung cancer treatment to date is running upwards of $1.25 million, so mitigation is pretty cost-effective if you think about it.

So please test your home for radon. Preventing lung cancer is so much easier and less costly than treating lung cancer.

January is National Radon Action Month. Winter is the perfect time to test your home for radon because your doors and windows are closed. Testing your home is the only way to know whether your home has elevated levels. Order your radon test kit today–it’s the best way to protect yourself and your family from the hidden hazards of radon gas.

Jan PoulsenI am currently retired, but I spent over 20 years as a travel agent, and was a volunteer at school, church, and with the Cottonwood Heights Figure Skating Club. For ten years, I managed the only synchronized skating team in Utah. My husband is a pediatric dentist, and we have 2 grown daughters. No grandchildren, but three granddogs! I had to retire from the travel industry and my volunteer work when I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now my mission is to again volunteer, but this time I hope to be saving lives by sharing my story about how radon has affected my life. I am a proud member of the Utah Radon Coalition and the Utah Radon Policy Coalition, and a local advocate and organizer for LUNGevity.

This entry was originally published on January 16th, 2018, updated on January 16th, 2018, and posted in news.

DEQ: Most-Read Blogs You May Have Missed in 2017

By Donna Kemp Spangler

Photo credit: Lonnie Shull

Since Earth Day 2014, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has offered weekly blogs written by our scientists, engineers, and environmental partners that highlight important environmental issues affecting Utahns. A new blog is posted every Monday on the DEQ web page.

Our 2017 blogs focused on a wide range of issues relevant to Utah’s environmental quality. They are designed to inform and entertain our readers while providing an “inside look” at the many ways DEQ works to improve Utah’s air, land and water through balanced regulation.

I invite you to take a look at our most popular blogs in 2017 to learn more about the environmental issues that affect all of us.

  1. Oil and Gas App Streamlines Inspection Process. Whitney Oswald, air-quality scientist, explained how the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is using technology to simplify field inspections for oil and gas facilities.

    blogs

    UWFPS 2017 participants with the Twin Otter at the Salt Lake International Airport. Photo credit: Steve Brown

  2. DEQ: Air Scientists Have Eyes in the Sky for PM2.5. This blog spotlighted a collaborative air-quality study by DAQ, NOAA, EPA and universities. Using a specially equipped Twin Otter plane, researchers were able to measure upper-atmosphere chemical conditions during a winter inversion. These measurements provided scientists with critical data on the chemical reactions that lead to the formation of PM2.5 
  3. DEQ, Schools Partner to Keep Kids Safe from Lead in Drinking. Drinking Water Director Marie Owens explained a DEQ initiative that encouraged school districts to test their drinking water for lead to protect schoolchildren from exposure.
  4. Residential Wood-Burning: To Burn or Not to Burn. Air-quality scientist Nancy Daher unveiled findings on the impacts of wood burning on air quality. It accounts for more pollution than what you might think!
  5. Polluting Wood Stoves Go up in Smoke with Sole-Source Conversion Program. Joel Karmazyn, air-quality scientist, explained how DAQ’s program assisted residents who used wood or coal as their sole source of heat change out their old devices for more air-friendly alternatives.
  6. ZOOm Go Electric: Clean Transportation at a Discount Price. Guest blogger Clayton Johnson of Utah Clean Energy promoted a program funded by a Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) grant to encourage consumers to “go electric!” at a discounted price.
  7. DEQ: Tips for Making Public Comments Count. This blog offered how-to advice on making effective public comments on proposed rulemaking.

    blogs

    Click on photo for a larger view

  8. Water, Water, Everywhere: Is Your Drinking Water Safe after a Flood? Kim Dykes, field services manager for the Division of Drinking Water, has seen a thing or two about flooding and flood-caused contamination. In this blog, he offered expert advice on what residents can do after a flood to keep their drinking water safe.
  9. DEQ: Getting Serious about Improving Utah’s Air. This blog explained the steps DAQ is taking to comply with EPA’s “serious” designation and help Utah meet federal PM5 air-quality standards by 2019.
  10. Air Assist Helps Millcreek Coffee Roasters Reduce Emissions with Every Cup. Guest blogger Bailey Toolson of UCAIR explained how a local coffee company is helping improve the air through UCAIR’s Air Assist Program, a program that provided grants to small businesses to help them install cleaner technology.
Have a blog you want to share? Contact me for consideration. I invite you to visit our blog, posted every Monday at 11 a.m. and later in the day on our Facebook page, to stay informed about important environmental issues while getting to know the people at DEQ who work to protect and improve Utah’s air, land and water.

Donna SpanglerI am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write an occasional blog. You can find me on Twitter @deqdonna.

 

 

This entry was originally published on January 8th, 2018 and posted in news.

DEQ 2017: The Environmental Year in Review

By Alan Matheson

continuous improvement

I’m convinced people can only be truly happy when they are progressing, reaching new heights in performance and character. Growth and improvement build confidence, increase capacity to meaningfully contribute, and give life purpose. Progress is inherently rewarding.

The same principle applies to organizations. In a time of rapid change, only those organizations that adapt—that creatively use limited resources to more effectively advance their mission—will succeed.

We at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are committed to accomplish our mission — safeguarding and improving Utah’s air, land, and water through balanced regulation — more effectively. Continuous improvement is one of our core values. To continue to protect public health and our environment as Utah’s population grows but agency budgets do not, we simply must become more efficient, providing more of our vital services without increasing costs. We are driven to improve health, well-being, and economic opportunity by cleaning our air, land, and water, all without increasing the burden on Utah’s taxpayers.  And that is exactly what we are doing.

During his previous term, Governor Herbert launched SUCCESS, an initiative that challenged state agencies to improve their efficiency by 25 percent. DEQ accomplished that goal by tracking more systems than any other state agency and increasing efficiency in those systems by nearly 40 percent. By streamlining processes, we freed up resources to invest in additional services to the public. But we’re far from done.

In 2017, I appointed Scott Baird as a Deputy Director over performance improvement. He is working closely with Renette Anderson, who was, and is, a driving force in our SUCCESS initiative. Under their great leadership, each DEQ section is evaluating how it can improve at least one of its core processes, making permitting, inspections, and data-sharing more efficient. Butcher paper and sticky notes with process maps are appearing on our office walls, along with ideas for eliminating unnecessary steps.

We are developing a management system that will help DEQ sections track progress toward their goals, communicate issues more promptly to senior management, and identify needed resources. Beyond that, this fiscal year we will implement a more robust cost-accounting system that will track our work by task and customer facility more effectively. The result will be a powerful management tool that will spur productivity and help us increase value to taxpayers and our customers.

In these efforts, we hold ourselves accountable to the public. We have developed new, more meaningful performance measures. Charts and television monitors in our office display our progress relative to these measures. We are also among the first states to share key environmental indicators on “ECOS Results,” an interactive web tool sponsored by the Environmental Council of States that communicates stories of state progress toward cleaner air, land, and water.

continuous improvementOur dedicated employees are putting in extra time and effort to achieve these performance improvements while still tackling their usual workload. They know that today’s investment in innovation will pay long-term dividends: better public-health, environmental, and economic outcomes; more time spent on mission-focused work; more appreciation from stakeholders; and a more rewarding career.

Progress can be difficult, but at DEQ, we recognize that it is easier and more rewarding than stagnation. We invite your ideas on how we can serve you better.

I invite you to read the 2017 State of the Environment report scheduled for release this Friday, January 5 to learn more about the many ways DEQ is improving life for all Utah residents.
Alan Matheson

I am the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

 

This entry was originally published on January 2nd, 2018, updated on January 2nd, 2018, and posted in news.

The 12 Days of Christmas? How about the 10 Days of Inversion?

By DEQ Communications Office

Utah kicked off its winter inversion season in full force in early December with gunky air that persisted for 10 straight days.

inversion The Utah Department of Environmental Quality took to its Facebook page to provide residents with regular updates, tips for reducing emissions, and links to our air-quality monitoring data. We’ve put together a day-by-day compilation of our posts and pictures to show how an inversion begins, builds, and dissipates — in this case, over the course of 10 days.

Inversion alert!

“Utah is due for its first major inversion of the season this week, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality‘s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) has issued a mandatory no-burn action that includes hefty fines for those violating the no-burn rules.

DAQ research suggests that the amount of wood smoke in the air on no-burn days is about the same as when the ban isn’t in effect That means some folks are still burning wood even on no-burn days! We hope residents will take the impacts of wood burning more seriously and pay attention to the burn conditions. That cozy, romantic fire in your fireplace is bad for our air and bad for your health.”

Inversion: Day 1

“It’s the first mandatory action day of the year. This means wood-burning restrictions are in place for Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Box Elder, Cache, and Tooele counties. With a high pressure system sitting over Utah, northern Utah valleys will be under an inversion for the next week. As the pollution starts to build up, it increases the harm to the lungs and hearts of people with pulmonary and cardiac conditions. Act now to protect your and your neighbor’s health by reducing driving, taking Ride UTA and avoiding heavy outdoor activity. To learn more about ways you can help, check out these tips from our friends at Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR).

Inversion: Day 2

inversion

Day 2

“Pictures from this morning show the PM2.5 pollution building up in the valley. The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS)‘s forecast has pegged this as a prolonged inversion episode. No significant changes are predicted over the next few weeks.

What can you do? A lot! Concentrations are not yet in the dreaded, unhealthy “red” range. Now is the time to take steps to help reduce the severity of this inversion before human-health risks rise.

  1. Consider taking Ride UTA. It’s a lot easier than most people think. Find the easiest way to get to work using the scheduling tool on the UTA website.
  2. Remember to trip chain by running all your errands at once. It will help cut personal emissions and save you a bunch of time this holiday season.
  3. Don’t burn! Six percent of the emissions during an inversion come from illegal wood burning, most of it recreational. Skip the yule log. It will benefit your health.
  4. Develop a Personal Action Plan. Our friends at Breathe Utah have a great online tool to help you plan and conserve energy this winter.

The human health risks from inversions come from our emissions. We can all play a part in helping out.”

Inversion: Day 3

inversion

Day 3

NOAA’s Salt Lake Bureau’s latest measurements show the prolonged inversion episode intensifying. At 10 a.m., air monitors at Hawthorne Elementary measured PM2.5 at 16 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This is enough to bump the area into the “Moderate” (yellow) range in the Air Quality Index. At 35µg/m3, we move into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range (orange). The thing to keep an eye on is the 24-hour average. Follow real-time monitor readings at http://air.utah.gov.

Today’s forecast keeps those 24-hour averages in the moderate range until Sunday, when we expect levels to move into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range.

Unlike ozone pollution, which dissipates at night, PM2.5 sticks around until new weather conditions come in and mix the air at higher altitudes. The forecast doesn’t call for a change until later this month.”

Inversion: Days 4-5

inversion

Day 4

“If you are Christmas shopping, consolidate trips to prevent the air from getting worse. Let’s don’t let the air quality get so bad our kids have to stay indoors tomorrow.

In our valley, emission sources fall into three categories:

  1. Forty-eight percent from mobile such as cars and trucks
  2. Thirty-nine percent from area sources such as small businesses and homes, including wood burning
  3. Thirteen percent from point sources such as refineries, copper mines, and power plants

Do your part to reduce the 48 percent contribution from vehicles by limiting trips.”

Inversion: Day 6

fog and inversion

Day 6

“Inversion conditions persist throughout northern Utah. This morning, it was cold enough to suspend tiny water droplets in the atmosphere, which created fog on top of the PM2.5 in the air. Conditions will continue for the next week at least.

While diurnal breezes change levels of PM2.5, the peaks have been rising, as have the 24-hour averages. The meteorologists at Utah DAQ forecast levels hitting “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” today.

This means people with heart and lung conditions need to take it easy. For the rest of us, help limit human-health risks by limiting the use of vehicles and, of course, do not burn wood.

Real-time monitoring and forecasts are available at http://air.utah.gov and through the mobile app. You can download the app for free on your Android  or iPhone.”

Inversion: Day 7

“The fog has become more intense with the inversion. We are starting to see numbers spike for PM2.5 pollution in the area around the Hawthorne Elementary air-quality monitor. Like other meteorological conditions, these numbers fluctuate throughout the day and across the valley. Trends, however, show increasing PM2.5 levels across the Wasatch Front. If you or someone you know has a heart or lung condition, please limit outdoor exertion.

inversion

Day 7

You can help your health and your neighbor’s health by parking your car if possible, carpooling, and, of course, not burning wood.”

Inversion: Day 8  

“A simple glance out the window and it’s clear (pun intended) that the inversion and PM2.5 pollution is still with us this morning. #ActNow4CleanAir by limiting vehicle use and do not burn wood.

The bad news? We moved into the “Unhealthy” range for the 24-hour average in Salt Lake City last night. The good news? One-hour averages have come back down to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” today.

What’s going on? Well, inversion ceilings change with diurnal winds. What is likely happening is that the ceiling of this inversion has lifted and conditions are improving on the valley floor.

Will the ceiling settle again? We will see as the day progresses. Follow our monitors at air.utah.gov.

inversion

Day 8

Inversion: Day 9

“If it looks better, that’s because it IS better. A weak front rolled through overnight and cleared out the fog and PM2.5 pollution. We are still in an inversion, so PM2.5 levels will climb again. The Wasatch Front is still under mandatory action restrictions.

What happened overnight: At 8 a.m., the 1-hour averages for PM2.5 had dipped to 18.6 µg/m3, or the “Moderate” range in Salt Lake City. The 24-hour average also fell to 39.6 µg/m3, or the “Unhealthy for Sensitive” range. Big improvements!

That 11 a.m. spike we’ve seen every day of the inversion hit as expected. Levels have now moved out of “Moderate” and back to “Unhealthy for Sensitive” range in Salt Lake City. All other counties are “Moderate.” Expect numbers to hover here until tonight. #ActNow4CleanAir! Little steps help.

Meteorologists say that a predicted front Friday night and Saturday morning might improve conditions temporarily. That high pressure system, however, is still sitting over northern Utah, and inversion conditions are forecast to stick around.”

Inversion: Day 10

“We aren’t out of the woods yet. The inversion is still holding on, with the soonest relief possible coming on Saturday. The good news? Those high-level cirrus clouds you see above the inversion are indicators of a front moving into the area.

Saturday’s front will change the temperature profile and allow for greater atmospheric mixing, which will move the PM2.5 pollution off the valley floor. For now, though, mandatory restrictions are still in place. Please refrain from burning wood.

The numbers from 10 a.m. show the mid-day spike in PM2.5 is right on schedule. The 24-hour average for Salt Lake City is in the “Moderate” range for some of the best #AirQuality in the last week. All other counties are reading “Moderate.”

#ActNow4CleanAir is our hashtag mantra to persuade Utahns to do their part to help keep our air clean so everyone can breathe easier. Visit UCAIR for more tips on how you can reduce pollution, not just during inversions, but every day.

This entry was originally published on December 26th, 2017 and posted in news.

DEQ Gets into the Holiday Spirit with Sub for Santa and Toys for Tots

By Jenny Potter

Sub for Santa

Presents under the tree at Primary Children’s Cancer Unit from the DEQ Executive Director’s Office

It’s the time of year when we reach into our hearts — and sometimes our wallets — to share what we have with others. But did you know that you also benefit by giving to others? Most of us don’t stop to think about the fact that by giving, we bring greater meaning to our lives and the lives of others, and we promote generosity in those around us.

The Executive Director’s office at the Department of Environmental Quality is always looking for ways to give back to the community beyond our work as public servants charged with protecting the environment. For the past two years, our office has volunteered to be a Sub for Santa for Primary’s Children’s Cancer Unit. We each donate a few dollars to help make the holiday a little brighter for a family facing childhood cancer. The child and his/her entire family receive gifts so that presents on Christmas morning are one less thing the parents need to worry about.

Many of us here have had our lives or the lives of our loved ones touched by cancer, but childhood cancer is particularly devastating. That’s why we chose Primary Children’s Cancer Unit as our Sub for Santa project.

Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Globally there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. Every three minutes, somewhere in the world a family hears the devastating words that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. While survival rates for many types of childhood cancer have improved, for too many children, cancer will shorten their lives too soon. Cancer remains the most common cause of death by disease for children in America.” (acco.org)

The hospital sends us a wish list from the child and any siblings, lets us know what kind of cancer the child is battling, and what we can do to ease the burden on the parents. We have been able to help these families celebrate the holiday by purchasing presents for the kids and gift cards for the parents. We recognize how much we have been blessed, and this small act of kindness allows us to give some of our blessings to others and support our local community, too.

Sub for SantaIt’s not only the Executive Directors Office at DEQ that makes contributions to our community. Each year, the State of Utah conducts a charity drive that involves all state employees. In December, DEQ holds a charity drive; this year we collected donations for Toys for Tots and the Salt Lake County Animal Shelter. The Marines told us that our boxes were the most they had collected so far! In addition, each division holds its own periodic charity drives, including cans of food for the Food Bank and clothing and hygiene items for The Road Home. Giving is important to everybody in our Department — we work for state government because we believe in public service, and our staff makes sure we give back to the community we serve in lots of different ways.

I’m not sharing this to pat ourselves on the back; I share it because small acts of kindness and giving can have huge benefits. My hope is that by doing these small acts of kindness, we give to those who need it, and it will allow them more time with their loved ones without the worry and stress that can often be part of the holiday season.

Take time to volunteer, take time to donate. People often ask “is your cup half full or half empty?” I can tell you that my cup runneth over, and by giving it has been filled even more. If you are blessed in your life, remember to help fill the cup of someone else, and let them know that there are those who will help. No family should have to face a child with cancer, but we can make it just a little easier for them by helping this time of year. May we treat others with kindness each day and remember that life is about giving to each other!

All of us at DEQ wish you have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

I am the Executive Assistant for the Executive Director of  DEQ. I am a records officer and notary for the division, and I have been with DEQ for five years. Prior to working with DEQ, I worked for the Division of Child and Family Services and the Juvenile Justice System. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, a BA in Business Management with an emphasis in human resources, and am a Certified Public Manager through the State of Utah.  I love what I do, but love my family more, and anytime I can spend with them outside is time well spent. You can find me and my husband Jeremy and our children camping, hiking, fishing or any other outdoor recreational activity we can enjoy in our beautiful state!

This entry was originally published on December 18th, 2017, updated on December 18th, 2017, and posted in news.

Cows to Commerce: DEQ Cleanup Program Helps Ogden Develop Business Exchange

By Joe Katz

Ogden has a long history as a railroad hub. At one point, the local chamber of commerce’s motto was, “You can’t get anywhere without coming to Ogden.” Its location along the original Transcontinental Railroad brought the industry and commerce that easy access to rail provides. Ogden still has significant rail traffic, but over time heavy industry moved away from Ogden’s core, leaving a number of underutilized properties, or Brownfields. While these properties pose redevelopment challenges, they also provide opportunities for economic growth.

Ogden Business Exchange

Historic Ogden Union Stockyards

Brownfields are properties where uncertainties about environmental contamination — even the perception of contamination based on history or appearance — discourage reinvestment in and redevelopment of the property. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) offer a variety of tools to help interested parties chip away at these uncertainties, removing the questions and stigmas that impede redevelopment at these properties.

Ogden’s recent Brownfields project tackled environmental uncertainties at the historic Ogden Union Stockyards, established in approximately 1905. The 50-acre stockyards were a shipping point to on- and off-load livestock to the railroads. Over the course of time, millions of head of livestock passed through the facility. The stockyards were eventually closed in 1971, and the property slowly fell into disrepair. Parts of the property were used for various other purposes, including drum storage, container storage, engines, vehicles, scrap piles, and railroad ties, all of which created a significant amount of environmental uncertainty. Ogden’s ultimate vision for the stockyards was to transform the property into the Ogden Business Exchange, one of Utah’s first lifestyle business parks, but the Brownfields challenges had to be resolved first.

To address the environmental uncertainties at the site, Ogden City used funding from an EPA Brownfields Community-Wide Assessment grant — one of the tools available to inventory, characterize, and assess Brownfields sites — to perform a Phase 2 Site Assessment at the property. The assessment provided information the city needed to apply for an Enforceable Written Assurance (EWA) from DEQ. An EWA is another Brownfields tool that allows prospective purchasers of a property to purchase impacted property without some of the legal consequences that would otherwise follow. In many cases, lenders will not finance a property transaction until uncertainties have been resolved. An EWA becomes a tool to facilitate Brownfield property transactions.

EWAs require Reasonable Steps, which are simply actions the purchaser agrees to take to avoid making contamination problems at a property worse. Since the Phase 2 Assessment did not completely characterize the stockyards, a Reasonable Step included in the EWA was to complete response actions under the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) to further characterize the property. Ogden applied to the VCP in July 2014.

Ogden Business Exchange

Ogden Business Exchange Conceptual Design. Click on photo for larger view.

DEQ works in partnership, whenever possible, with an applicant under the VCP to successfully clean up the property. To assist the city and meet their scheduling requirements, the larger property was divided into three smaller phases so work could be completed on the highest priority areas first. Also, because enough data were gathered during the Phase 2 Assessment, a simultaneous characterization-remediation strategy was used to significantly speed up the remediation process. Finally, Ogden applied for and received a loan from the Wasatch Front Brownfields Coalition Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The RLF is a Brownfields funding tool that provides low-interest loans for cleanup projects in Salt Lake and Weber Counties. The Ogden Business Exchange project is a great example of the synergies that can occur through the use of a combination of various Brownfields tools.

Field work commenced on Phase 1 in winter 2015 after a cleanup plan was developed and a public comment period completed. Upon completion of the work, a No Further Action letter was issued. This allowed construction of a new commercial facility that was completed and opened in 2016.

Ogden Business ExchangeField work on Phase 2 started in spring 2015. Work on Phase 2 was completed, and DEQ’s Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) issued a second No Further Action letter allowing redevelopment of this phase to proceed unhindered. Field work on Phase 3 began in Fall 2015. DERR is reviewing the final reporting for this phase, and issuance of a site-wide Certificate of Completion is anticipated upon completion of final reporting, likely in early 2018.

Ogden City is on the verge of transforming this once blighted 50-acre site into the Ogden Business Exchange. Minutes from downtown, the new business park will not only provide a new tax base for the city but a recreation destination as well. Ogden City and its office of Community & Economic Development couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

 “The Utah DEQ played an important role in the Ogden Business Exchange, which is a significant redevelopment project in Ogden City. The project transformed the historic Ogden Union Stockyards, long vacant and blighted, into a state-of-the-art business park. Joining the DEQ’s Voluntary Clean-up Program allowed the City to access technical assistance, planning, and regulatory clarity that helped us to complete the project correctly and in a timely manner. The DERR team was very knowledgeable, flexible, and always willing to help – they were essential to the City’s efforts to return this brownfields site to a productive use.”

 — Ogden City

The Voluntary Cleanup Program provides municipalities with a mechanism to clean up contaminated sites under a cooperative, regulatory-friendly framework. These cleanups mitigate the risks to human health and the environment and return contaminated lands to beneficial use. DEQ is happy to have played an important role in facilitating the development of the new Ogden Business Exchange. This transformation of formerly blighted land to a lifestyle business park promises to bring important economic and recreational opportunities to the people of Ogden.

Want to learn more about our Voluntary Cleanup Program? Visit our website for more information, and check out our Brownsfield newsletter to find out about our other VCP success stories.

I am a project manager in the Voluntary Cleanup Program. I have a chemistry degree from the University of Utah (yes, questioning my sanity for sticking with the subject beyond organic chemistry is completely normal. Believe me, I questioned my own sanity before every final exam). I am recently married and enjoy spending time with my wife (I guess if I did not, being married might be a little more complicated). Outside of work, I like learning, travel, and anything outdoors, especially hiking and landscape and wildlife photography.

This entry was originally published on December 11th, 2017, updated on December 11th, 2017, and posted in news.