Toxic lime spill cleanup on Bitner Road in Kimball Junction continues (w/ video)
The efforts to clean up more than 20,000 pounds of toxic quicklime on Bitner Road in Kimball Junction continued days after a dump truck first spilled the substance on the road.
A dump truck was carrying the substance on Feb. 28 when it hit boulders at the roundabout on Bitner Ranch Road while trying to turn around, causing the quicklime to spill along more than a mile of Bitner Road. The incident prevented residents in the area from entering and exiting their neighborhoods for more than five hours.
The driver, 55, of Riverton, works for Modern Transportation, a Pennsylvania-based company with a location in Provo, said Kevin Shiflett, senior director for safety and risk management for Modern Transportation, Modern Transportation hired a private company for the cleanup while the Summit County Health Department oversees the work.
Derek Siddoway, a spokesperson with the Health Department, said the agency’s primary concern is for public and environmental health. He said the Health Department is working with the cleanup crew to ensure the spill is not impacting the surrounding area, including residents, wildlife and water sources. He compared the substance’s toxicity to that of soapy water. Siddoway was unable to say how long the cleanup would continue to take.
“At this point, there are zero threats to people or the surrounding water systems,” he said. “All the cleanup right now is primarily for aesthetic purposes.”
The Health Department has received calls from residents about how to remove the substance from their vehicles and clothes, as well as pets’ paws, Siddoway said.
“If you do get it on your shoes or your pet walks through it, wipe it off as soon as you can,” he said. “There is still no real health concern since the substance is diluted by rain and water. For vehicles, we are encouraging people to search online for any type of solution to remove lime residue or calcium deposits.”
Kathie Savage, principal broker for Canyon Creek Club Homes, said she has fielded numerous calls from residents concerned about the residue the substance has left on their vehicles.
“It has been a challenge for our residents,” she said. “What was really frustrating was when it first happened, it impacted a lot of people, creating a lot of anxiety and stress. Now it is just people wondering how it is going to be managed.”
Lt. Andrew Wright, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, said the driver was not cited for the accident. But, he said last week the case would be sent to the county attorney’s office for screening. Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said on Thursday her office has not received it.
Kevin Shiflett, senior director for safety and risk management for Modern Transportation, said the company is investigating the incident. He said the driver has more than 25 years of experience, adding, “I’m not sure how we got into this situation.”
“He has been relieved of his duty until the investigation is complete,” he said. “Whether he retains his employment will all hinge on the outcome of the investigation and the environmental impacts of this.”
Shiflett said he has received about five phone calls from residents in the area concerned about the substance on their vehicles. He said Modern Transportation is working with residents and the company’s insurance provider to solve the situation.
“I believe we have taken appropriate measures,” he said. “Our insurance company has stepped in and it will be costly for our organization to clean up. Our goal is to ensure we are doing the right thing for the public in that area and for the residents of Summit County. Our main focus is safety. We understand the impact of what we’ve done and we want to make sure we make that right.”
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.