CLOSED: Voice your concerns regarding a proposed mine in Parleys Canyon.

Voice your concerns regarding a proposed mine in Parleys Canyon.

SAVE Parleys canyon

An application for what would eventually be a 635-acre limestone quarrying and gravel pit operation located in the area northeast of Grandeur Peak and southwest of Mount Aire was submitted to the Department of Oil, Gas, and Mining (DOGM) in November 2021. The proposal has raised concerns among thousands of residents in the area and is now being reviewed by the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Environmental and Health Concerns

The proposed Parleys Canyon Mine in Utah is a controversial project involving mining for limestone on a site located on the slopes of the Wasatch Mountains, immediately adjacent to Salt Lake City. The project has been met with resistance from local communities and environmental groups who are concerned about the potential impact on air and water quality, as well as the disruption to wildlife habitat and recreational activities in the area. The mining company has stated that it will take measures to mitigate these concerns, but many remain skeptical of its ability to reduce the project’s potential impacts on the surrounding environment.

The proposed Parleys Canyon Mine raises air quality concerns primarily due to the fact that it will create fine particles that pollute the air, reduce visibility, and compound the air quality issues that already plague the Salt Lake Valley. Airborne particulate matter can have negative impacts on both human health and the environment. Additionally, the mine’s location near residential areas and a major transportation corridor further exacerbate these concerns. Strong canyon winds along the I-80 corridor will funnel dust from the quarry into neighborhoods near the mouth of the canyon. 

Fugitive dust is a term used to describe any particulate matter that becomes airborne and can be transported by wind or other means. It originates from various sources, including construction sites, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, and industrial processes. Fugitive dust serves as an irritant that can create or worsen respiratory problems while having additional negative impacts on human health, air quality, quality of life, and the environment. Currently, there is very limited regulation of fugitive dust in Utah, and polluters are not always held accountable for the dust they create and its effects on people and the environment. Regulatory agencies need to strengthen their guidelines and enforcement to minimize its production and release.

Utah wants to mine for limestone in Parleys Canyon because it is a valuable resource used in construction, agriculture, and industry. Limestone is a key ingredient in cement, which is used to build roads, bridges, and buildings. It is also used as a soil conditioner in agriculture and as a component in various products such as steel, glass, and paper. However, there may be more appropriate sources of limestone that are not upwind of a major metropolitan area and the millions of people who live and work there.  

Issues with this proposed mine

DAQ is moving forward with approval of the air quality plan, but meanwhile, it is unclear whether the permit for the Quarry will even be secured, as there is an active lawsuit ongoing. The Third District Court has not yet decided if Salt Lake County’s zoning ordinance applies to this parcel of land. If it does, the quarry would likely be denied a conditional use permit.

The current plan only covers emission estimates for a 20-acre open pit quarry, while Granite has publicly stated their intent to expand it to a 635-acre pit. This could prove to be a dangerous entry point wedge for the larger facility. If they can get the smaller permit approved, the larger project could more easily be expedited.

The plan also fails to specify the amount of water needed to suppress fugitive dust, which is concerning, as DAQ does not require operators to estimate the necessary water or demonstrate access to it. If the water comes from SLC utilities, diverting it could affect water bodies downstream, including the Great Salt Lake.

HEAL’s policy team is combing through the details of the 410-page document paying special attention to where and how the dust emissions are monitored. The current regulations for fugitive dust in Utah are inadequate, as regulatory officials only conduct compliance checks and monitoring every 12-18 months. Furthermore, the placement of these monitoring stations can be significantly far from the source, leading to an underestimation of the impact that frontline communities will experience. In this case, the nearest official dust monitor is 5 miles away from the source site.