Earthquake in Utah causes chemical spill at Kennecott plant, but no danger to public health

Mar 18, 2020, 7:02 PM | Updated: Mar 19, 2020, 7:36 am
Earthquake in Utah causes chemical spill at Kennecott plant, but no danger to public health...
(Fire and hazmat crews stationed at a command post by Saltair, ready to go to Kennecott if needed. Credit: Paul Nelson)
(Fire and hazmat crews stationed at a command post by Saltair, ready to go to Kennecott if needed. Credit: Paul Nelson)

MAGNA – People living near a smelting facility owned by Kennecott can breathe easier.  The 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Utah caused a chemical spill that sent a visible plume into the air.  However, safety officials say any threat to the public has passed.

Officials from Rio Tinto/Kennecott say the Hydrochloric acid spill happened at the refinery, not at the Bingham Canyon Mine, itself.  The spill forced the plant to stop operations, but company representatives say there were no injuries and all of their employees are accounted for.

“We found a 12,000-gallon tank that leaked about 8,200 of that.  Most of it was contained right in a catch basin around the tank,” according to Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Peterson.

Crews from UFA and even the Utah National Guard were asked to monitor the air quality, but officials say the acid didn’t mix with any other chemical to make a more dangerous compound.  So, the risk to the public was minimal.  However, Peterson says they’re still going to keep an eye on the situation.

“We’re leaving six hazmat crews on site.  We will continue to monitor and make sure there are not other challenges or problems,” he says.

Representatives from the city of Magna say residents have been extremely supportive and checking on each other to see if they’re all right.  However, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera says the best thing people can do now is to stay in their homes.

“If you’re out on the streets and you’re trying to just go out and look at the community, we don’t need that right now,” she says.

Emergency officials say all of the damage reports they’ve seen show damage in Magna was relatively small because of the quake.  However, they expect the aftershocks to continue.  Rivera says people need to continue to be strong when they happen.

“Stay calm.  We need our communities to remain calm in this type of situations,” Rivera says.


Related Articles:

Safety officials try to quash false rumors after earthquake in Utah

Salt Lake airport reopens hours after 5.7 magnitude earthquake

County emergency management officials address earthquake, response

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


A new service called Cottonwood Connect could address parking problems at the ski resorts in Big an...
Kate Davis and Simone Seikaly

Cottonwood Connect offers a new way to get up Cottonwood Canyons

The goal is to fill gaps left when UTA limited ski bus service. The shuttle will run Thursday through Sunday through mid-April.
12 hours ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
12 hours ago
Alex Cabrero

Man details perilous rescue of pilot who went down in Rich County

There was a lot of space and not much time to search it when a pilot went down in Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Rich County Tuesday night.
12 hours ago
A bill that would encourage Utah communities to bump Halloween festivities — like trick-or-treati...
Logan Stefanich

Utah resolution proposing Friday designation for Halloween celebrations advances

While the bill wouldn't change the date of Halloween itself, it would recognize a designated day for Halloween celebrations.
12 hours ago
A crowd of people waiting at a Draper UTA station. A bus bridge was put in place after someone was ...
Amie Schaeffer

Pedestrian hit and killed by UTA Frontrunner

A Frontrunner train struck and killed a person early Thursday morning. A bus bridge was put in place between Draper and South Jordan.
12 hours ago
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, speaks at a press conference about the Great Salt Lake at the ...
Carter Williams. KSL.com

Utah, Salt Lake leaders unveil new plans to improve the struggling Great Salt Lake

State and local leaders are prposing two pieces of legislation to help save the Great Salt Lake amid dropping water level.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Earthquake in Utah causes chemical spill at Kennecott plant, but no danger to public health