Test results reveal no evidence of mercury contamination in Fairmont Park pond, city announces

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Final test results for samples taken after Saturday night’s storm are expected Sunday.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Yellow tape surrounds the pond at Fairmont Park in Salt Lake City on Thursday, September 9, 2021. Tests have revealed the potential presence of mercury.

Mayor Erin Medenhall announced that further city testing and initial results from the Environmental Protection Agency found no mercury contamination in the pond in Fairmont Park, after its possible presence was detected on Wednesday.

Mendenhall, EPA on-site federal coordinator Valeriy Bizyayev and Salt Lake City utilities director Laura Briefer held a press conference near the park on Saturday, and Bizyayev said they were awaiting the final round of tests but were “fairly confident” that there was no mercury contamination.

Bizyayev said on Friday that the preliminary round of test results indicated that the initial detection likely came from the tank used to store a water sample, not the water itself.

“We sampled throughout the park, to the right, both upstream of the pond and downstream. area, there is also an active demolition, ”said Bizyayev, also mentioning the instrument used to measure mercury vapors, which only detected the presence of mercury in the tank.

“It’s probably nothing to worry about at the moment – it was certainly well below any level of action that we would be concerned about.”

The EPA collected water and sediment samples, and test results showed only low detection limit results or no detection at all, Bizyayev said. Friday night’s storm also gave officials a chance to test whether the weather “shakes the scenario” and they took a series of additional samples on Saturday out of caution, and those results will be released Sunday night or Monday morning.

“We watched everything we could see, right out of [an] a lot of caution, ”said Bizyayev. “And with what the city has shot, aren’t we, we’re pretty confident that there is no mercury contamination in the pond.”

Briefer thanked the EPA response team for their work and said the Utilities Department will investigate the cause of the initial detection. There will also be a “full flush” of the pond system on Monday, as there is still “a little sheen” on the water.

It’s a thin, light sheen that makes it difficult to get a sample, Briefer said, but officials believe it’s likely some sort of mineral or cooking oil.

“We’re going to dump the pond system – some of that oil seems to have been attracted to the vegetation of the pond and the park’s river system, and so we want to make sure we dump it so that we can remove it.” the presence of this long-term glow.


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