Record editorial: Park City must earn the public’s support or dump planned soils repository
Editor’s note: This editorial was based on incorrect information posted by City Hall regarding the cost savings associated with the proposed soils facility along S.R. 248. A City Hall document initially indicated that storing contaminated soils at the facility rather than transporting them to Tooele County would save the municipal government $4.4 million over the lifespan of the repository. The cost savings was actually estimated at $14.4 million. An updated estimate released Saturday by City Hall indicates the cost savings would be approximately $17.9 million. References to the financial figures have been removed from this editorial.
Call it a toxic situation.
Parkites in recent weeks have sounded the alarm on a City Hall plan to construct a facility near the S.R. 248 entryway to store soils containing contaminants dating to Park City’s mining era. Critics have raised questions about the process the municipal government has taken as it considers the repository, as well as concerns about the health and environmental effects of building that kind of facility within city limits.
For its part, City Hall contends the repository would not be hazardous to people, wildlife or the environment. Ultimately, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality will have the final say regarding whether the site would carry any harmful impacts.
But given the wariness of the public, elected officials and Marsac Building staffers should instead slow down and proceed with caution.
Perhaps in the coming weeks and months they can address outstanding questions about the repository to the satisfaction of residents. If that happens, and the Department of Environmental Quality gives its sign-off, constructing the facility would be reasonable. In that scenario, Parkites would be able to rest easy as their children play on the athletic fields in Quinn’s Junction or while utilizing the trailheads near the site, knowing that due diligence was performed before the city dumped up to 120,000 cubic yards of contaminated material there.
Should Parkites continue to oppose the concept of building a toxic waste dump in their backyard, however, City Hall should be willing to walk away from the project. The status quo of transporting toxic soils to Tooele County is acceptable.
Moving forward despite the public’s misgivings would be a surefire way to inject more toxicity into a situation that is already hazardous.
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