Another environmental cleanup of historic wastes was completed in the Lark area, immediately east of the Bingham Canyon Mine. This project consisted of the relocation of over 1.7 million cubic yards of potentially acid-generating waste rock and the reclamation of nearly 600 acres of tailings deposits. The waste-rock was transported to the Bingham Canyon Mine waste rock disposal areas (behind the leach-water collection system). Tailings were sampled and "hot spots" containing high concentrations of lead were excavated and placed in an engineered, state-approved waste repository. The remainder of the tailings contain relatively low concentrations of metals and were reclaimed by capping with soils and revegetation. The Lark project also included removal of asbestos from buildings in the area as well as the demolition of derelict structures. The cost of the Lark-area work was nearly $15 million.
These and many other major and minor environmental cleanup projects at KUC are being conducted on an expedited basis by Kennecott in advance of any formal agreements with EPA or the State of Utah. Although there is a risk that Kennecott's responses to these environmental problems will not be acceptable to the regulators, Kennecott is proceeding as rapidly as possible to implement the solutions it believes are appropriate. In all cases, Kennecott informs the regulators before work begins and provides for regular inspections of the work by the regulators and stakeholders from the local communities. Kennecott has incorporated reasonable agency and stakeholder suggestions into the cleanup programs. On a practical level, Kennecott is proceeding so quickly that the agencies are having a hard time keeping up. For example, for several of the cleanup projects described above, work was well under way before legally enforceable administrative agreements were signed with EPA to oversee the work. Fortunately, EPA technical representatives were able to conduct site inspection even without legal agreements.
As mentioned above, an aggressive community relations program has been an integral part of the cleanup program. Kennecott has encouraged local community leaders, citizen groups, labor unions, professional organizations, environmental groups, and the regulators themselves to tour the operations and the cleanup projects to see the remarkable progress being made. This tour program has been very successful, and press coverage of the cleanup projects has been very positive. As another example of the success of the community relations program, public meetings held to discuss possible solutions to a groundwater contamination problem generated essentially no adverse publicity, and comments from the public about Kennecott's environmental approach were favorable.
Kennecott had been negotiating a ground-breaking legal agreement with EPA that would have governed the comprehensive cleanup program at Utah Copper. The agreement would have deferred EPA's consideration of listing the Utah Copper facility on the National Priorities (Superfund) List in exchange for Kennecott agreeing to do at least all of the work that would have been required had Utah Copper been listed. EPA recently elected to discontinue negotiations on this agreement