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As Governor Herbert hopes we will drive less and not use aerosol hairspray, little or no mention is made of these three behemoths befouling Salt Lake City/County.

The air so so toxic here, Salt Lake City has made national and even international news.  Here's the title of a recent local headline:

Utah's air may be killing you

This air.  Here is a picture taken by NASA on January 23, 2013.  Imagine your children having to walk to and from school in this toxic soup.

Salt Lake City Air Pollution, NASA, Jan 23, 2013

Levels of particulate pollution rose above 130 micrograms per cubic meter in Salt Lake City on January 23, 2013.  That’s three times the federal clean-air limit, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Salt Lake has suffered this unhealthy pollution for almost the entire month of January this year.  Click and read the daily reports from Wasatch Weather Weenies, written by Jim Steenburgh, a University of Utah professor and an expert on Western meteorology for a day by day description.

Jim reports this shocking tidbit.  There is only ONE REAL-TIME AIR QUALITY SENSOR in Salt Lake County and one each for the other counties.  ONE!? This is beyond irresponsible, imo.  What if there were a truly life-threatening event in a particular area?  Good Grief, Utah!  Stop doing important science on the cheap!  Here's an idea.  Make the polluters pay for more Real-time air quality sensors.  Do Utah's Legislators have children and/or grandchildren living here?

Professor Steenburgh writes:

Although there are more sensors collecting data for retrospective analysis, we have a desperate need for more real-time air quality sensors along the Wasatch Front.  We have access to only one sensor in each county.  For comparison, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency provides hourly real-time data from 16 sites, including 8 in the Seattle area.

And, yes, this is an inversion bowl just like Denver.  Denver cleaned up their air.  But with the huge companies behind our refineries, copper mine, and sand pit I don't think we have a prayer, even if we all stopped driving which we can't because public transportation is seriously lacking for most people.

It is BECAUSE Salt Lake County is an inversion bowl that the THREE POLLUTING BEHEMOTHS shouldn't be located and/or operating here, imo!

And 2 of the biggest contributors are and hope to continue expanding.

Rio Tinto to spend $660M on Utah copper mine

Utah refinery growth promises jobs, revenue, but at what cost?

Ask people arriving in Salt Lake what they smell.  Many will say this place smells like fuel.  We residents are just used to the smell and, like your own perfume,  can't smell it anymore.

Below the orange squiggle are pictures of the Polluting Behemoths rarely mentioned in the news or by the Governor:

Today is the first day in weeks I have felt energetic enough to sit up and use my desktop instead of lounging with my iPad.  Why have I felt so sick and weak this entire month?  It's the dirty air, I am sure.

And much to my dismay for myself, babies, kids with asthma, and fellow elders, business friendly Utah is about to make matters much, much worse in pursuit of the $$ to be made extracting thousands of new fracking wells and tar sands.  <==  Read this link for the gruesome details of what this will mean.  And then refining the tar sand oil near Salt Lake City.

The article praises "business friendly" Utah:

Despite these challenges, industry analyst and financial writer Bret Jensen, based in Miami, said , "I still like Newfield. They are moving more to oil and liquid production, and Utah is an extremely friendly business state. There’s always been mining and [agriculture], and now throw in oil in a state that’s conducive to furthering those businesses, that’s a huge plus."

There are five oil refineries located in the North Salt Lake City area listed on befouling our air according to Wikipedia. However, if you look closely on Google Earth there may be more than 5.  I have tagged a couple of locations "Looks like a refinery" on this Google Earth snapshop.  Note the proximity to Salt Lake City and other densely populated areas:

Oil Refineries near Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake Refineries

See page 4 for map of bitumen refineries in the US.  These are the Salt Lake bitumen refineries found on the map.

4 Utah Refineries Processing Tar Sands Oil

Bitumen explodes.  Refineries explode.  Bitumen refineries are high risk for explosions.  Explosions cause even higher toxic releases, putting people at greater health risks.  Utah's refineries explode all the time!

Utah's Unstable Oil Refineries

In the past 10 years, Utah’s five refineries themselves have reported fires, explosions, chemical releases and spills, both large and small, on average once every nine days
All five of Salt Lake's oil refineries are expanding and are already refining bitumen.  The expansions of production to these refineries will help process the bitumen from Utah's new tar sands production.

35,000 acres of tar sands, in addition to the thousands of wells mentioned in the article above are about to be developed.  Tar sands produce Bitumen which has the consistency of peanut butter and can't be piped without lots of chemical additives.

How can anyone believe that the Utah Government cares about our health?  Our property values?  Our babies, toddlers, and children (most of whom have to walk to and from school)?

Look at the housing development built adjacent to the exploding Holly Refinery:

Holly Refinery, near Salt Lake City and Housing Development - Woods Cross, Utah

So, I think the refineries pollution is affecting my health.


But maybe it's the giant Rio Tinto Copper mine that is causing me health problems.  I live closer to this than the refineries.  It's huge, and my town water now comes from a 100 year old mine sludge that Rio Tinto, the new mine owner, puts through their reverse osmosis system and sells to us.  I don't drink or even cook with this water.  I'm not even comfortable growing food watered by this water.  Our arsenic levels and the long list of other contaminents are below EPA standards, or so we are told. (Ok, that was a frustrated aside)

Here's a picture of  Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper mine situated on the west border of Salt Lake Valley.

Rio Tinto Copper Mine, West of Salt Lake City, Utah - 6 miles x 3.59 miles, 150 years old

According to Google Earth's measurements, this Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper Mine is approximately 6 miles x 3.59 miles or 18 square miles!  One 2.5 mile area is a half mile deep.  

It is half-mile deep and 2 1/2 miles wide and if it were a stadium it could seat 9 million people, so deep that you could put two Sears Towers on top of each other.
The mine is still going strong.  
Kennecott extracts about a 250,000 TONS OF ROCK out of the pit EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR or 91 MILLION TONS OF ROCK PER YEAR, so this is one attraction that keeps getting bigger.  By 2015 the will be 600 ft. deeper.  
Even with the expansion, the mine is projected to produce 180,000

At night you can see giant flood lights on top of the pit, which makes me wonder if they are digging 24/7.  I wouldn't be surprised:

(2010) environmental groups accused Kennecott Utah Copper LLC of violating production limits designed to prevent dust and other particle pollution at the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, the world's largest open-pit copper mine (Greenwire, Dec. 20, 2011).

The debate, proposed rule and litigation showcase the increased focus on mining pollution affecting the air and not just water and soil.

You can read about this state-sanctioned environmental pariah here:  The danger down below: Cancer cluster raises questions about legacy of toxic waste in Utah soil

You see, in Utah it looks like EPA doesn't work very well.  Huge housing developments have since been built on the contaminated mining soils on the west side of Salt Lake Valley.  The mining company owns the land and business-friendly Utah lets them build thousands of new homes over the past decade.  The housing boom seems to have re-ignited as hundreds of new homes are AGAIN being built.


This is the craziest project I have ever seen.  Practically all of Utah is made of sand, but these people choose to excavate in the middle of the population.  And the State/County/Towns let thousands of NEW homes be built adjacent to this behemoth sand pit!  This was a tiny operation a decade ago, but has simply boomed with no end in sight.

4 Sq Mile Sand Pit, Salt Lake City, Utah

Sand Excavation, Concrete Site, South Salt Lake County, Utah

I have completely lost faith in Utah Government which has been gerrymandered into a permanent GOP controlled rule.  I have lost all faith in EPA's role in Utah.  The pollution will only get worse.

There are huge plans for more housing to be built by Rio Tinto that could double the population of the Salt Lake County.  This will increase the pollution from cars, etc.

The mine has applied for expansion.

The additional spending at the Bingham Canyon mine will allow average annual production of 180,000 metric tons of copper, 185,000 ounces of gold and 13,800 tons of molybdenum from 2019 to 2029, Rio Tinto. (or 1/10th per year, so the yield is approximately 18,000 metric tons of copper, 18 metric tons of gold, and 1,390 tons of molybdenum yields for approximately 91,250,000 millions tons of crushed rock per year?  Where does all the remaining rock go? insertion mine)

The plan calls for Kennecott to "push back" the south wall of its mine by about 1,000 feet so miners can deepen the massive pit by another 300 feet and reach an additional 700 million tons of copper ore.

Absent the expansion, the company said it would have to begin winding down operations starting in 2016 and gradually lay off its roughly 2,400 workers as the end of copper production approached in 2021.

The refineries are applying for expansion.

Thousands of new fracking wells and that DISGUSTING TAR SANDS PROJECT are about to launch in eastern Utah, to be shipped to Salt Lake for refining.

Many adjacent counties have unacceptable air quality NOW.  The Uinta basin to the east, where all the fracking wells have been booming, also has unhealthy

Uintah Basin ozone problem triggers lawsuit against EPA

The suit, filed Friday by Earthjustice on behalf of WildEarth Guardians, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, challenges the EPA’s failure to declare that the Uintah Basin is violating federal health standards that limit concentrations of ground-level ozone in the air.
And the Governor hopes we will drive less and use less aerosol hair spray.   I'm all for these two ideas; however, I look forward to the Governor and the media including the three polluting behemoths above as well.

I have not heard a word about the THREE BIG POLLUTERS SURROUNDING SALT LAKE CITY and Salt Lake Valley.  No one seems to want to include these wealthy, huge corporations in the discussion:

Again:  On the North border, there are 5 Refineries,  hoping to expand and to refine Utah's new tar sand disaster-in-the-making oil.

There's an 18 square mile, 100 year old, 1/2 mile deep, 92,250,000 million tons of rock extracted peryear, expanding copper mine on the west border; and

A 4 square mile, expanding sand pit on the south border


Only 100 people showed up to protest at the Governor's recent energy summit!  Why aren't more people protesting about Salt Lake City's poisonous air?

Oh, and having a Delta-hub, International Airport only four miles to the west of Salt Lake might be contributing to the pollution.  Do hundreds of jets flying directly over Salt Lake Valley, day in and day out, contribute to particluate pollution?


May I suggest at least writing to Governor Herbert?

Utah Governor's Office

Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

PHONE: 801-538-1000
TOLL FREE: 800-705-2464

Maybe some people from elsewhere can help?  Do you enjoy skiing here?  Do you attend the Sundance Film Festival?  Please write to our Governor and ask him to clean up the air!

Again, people arriving tell us that Salt Lake City smells like fuel, so what part do the refineries play?  Maybe the copper mine and sand pit particulates are odorless.

Thank you!

Your Email has been sent.
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