BUTTERFIELD CREEK, Utah -- Rod Dansie is a director for the Herriman Irrigation Company; he’s lived near Butterfield Creek most of his life and has seen the many positives Kennecott has brought to the area, but he said it hasn’t all been positive.
“Events like this end up causing the people that live in the community a lot of problems with heavy metals coming down onto their lands and causing health hazards,” Dansie said.
Friday afternoon, Dansie noticed the retention ponds at the Kennecott copper mine had been breached and were overflowing onto public and private property, including Butterfield Creek.
“All the rainwater and snow water come down that, and it’s used on farms and gardens and by the people of Herriman,” he said.
Rio Tinto Environment Manager Kelly Payne said site rainfall monitors indicated the area received about 3.5 inches in a two-hour period Friday.
“That’s a very significant amount of rainfall and exceeds our design criteria for our sedimentation collection system,” Payne said.
Payne confirmed the waste ponds overflowed into Butterfield Canyon Friday, but she said anytime a significant storm occurs Kennecott inspects the basins.
“Times in the past we have known the sediment that comes off our waste dumps can contain slightly elevated concentrations of lead relative to a residential standard, so we are doing sampling,” Payne said. “We’ve got crews out as I speak now.”
Kennecott said until the waste is tested they can’t confirm whether it's hazardous.
But they said they’ll be working with any impacted landowners. For landowners like Rod Dansie, that leaves little comfort in the short term.