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Court OKs Salt Lake Superfund Listing

(CN) - The Environmental Protection Agency properly listed a magnesium processing facility bordering the Great Salt Lake as a superfund clean-up site, the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia ruled.

U.S. Magnesium, the current owner of the Tooele County, Utah magnesium plant, challenged the agency's 2008 listing decision. The company argued that the agency had overestimated the risk that pollutants from the facility might enter the air and soil.

The plant has produced molten magnesium since 1972, a process that creates chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid. The toxic byproducts flow through a series of ditches into two waste pools.

U.S. Magnesium claimed the agency should not have applied a "likelihood of release score," based on an earlier release of toxic substances from the facility, on top of the risk scores it assigned for each possible contamination source.

Writing for a three-judge panel, Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams disagreed, noting that the agency was required to consider previous releases when calculating the risk of future releases.

Williams denied U.S. Magnesium's petition for review, finding that the agency was not capricious or arbitrary in its application of the Hazard Ranking System, a rubric it developed to rate contamination risks under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

The agency "precisely" followed its own procedures, Williams wrote.


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