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BOARD REJECTS PLAN TO STORE TAINTED TAILINGS IN UTAH COUNTY FOR PRECIOUS-METAL EXTRACTION

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Utah County has nixed a proposal from a businessman who wanted to store tons of tainted tailings in Cedar Valley so precious metals they contain could be extracted.

Bill Peterson had proposed moving tailings from the Sharon Steel mill site in Midvale to Utah County but needed approval of the Board of Adjustments. Board members, aware that the tailings contained poisonous levels of arsenic and lead, said no.The Sharon site was identified as a candidate for Environmental Protection Agency cleanup in 1982 and has since been added to the EPA's Superfund cleanup list.

Besides the toxic heavy metals, Peterson said the tailings also contained nearly $200 million worth of gold and silver that he hoped someday might be extracted. He suggested moving the tailings by train or truck to an isolated 100-acre site that would be lined and fenced to prevent leakage.

The site is contained within a 549-acre parcel called Monte Vista Ranch, owned by Lee Fitzgerald, which is in bankruptcy. Completion of the tailings proposal could solve Fitzgerald's financial problems.

"I think this shouldn't be looked as a `not-in-my-backyard' issue, but as, `my neighbor's got a problem, let's help them out issue,' " Peterson said.

Vern Carsen, director of the Fairview Irrigation Company, worried that some of the toxic metals might leach into water supplies and wind up in Utah Lake.

"What do the people of Fairview get from all this?" he asked. "They get the shaft."

"I'm not interested in turning Utah County into a dumping site," said board member Jess Green.