Officials warn people to stay away from the old Tintic Mill

Jun 26, 2024, 7:00 AM

DWR officials say it's both illegal and dangerous to trespass into the old Tintic Mill area....

DWR officials say it's both illegal and dangerous to trespass into the old Tintic Mill area. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Utah officials warned people on Tuesday not to trespass into the old Tintic Mill in Utah County. Officials said it’s illegal and it’s dangerous. 

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Capt. Chad Bettridge said there has been a significant increase in trespassing citations in the old mill. 

“During 2020-2021, we had 216 citations for trespassing. The next year was 123, the next year was 101. This year it bumped back up to 250,” Bettridge said.

Why? He believes social media posts have been encouraging people to head over to the mill. 

“There have been some social media posts that have said ‘Hey this is a cool area… go check it out.’ I get it. It is a cool area.” 

But, it’s not only illegal to trespass into this “cool” area, he said. It’s extremely dangerous. 

“In 2002, the Department of Environmental Quality sampled the water and the soil and found elevated levels of arsenic and lead,” he said. “Two things that I don’t think people want to get into their system.”

An aerial view of the old Tintic Mill, located on the Goshen Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

Additionally, the fine for trespassing in that area could add up to $1,000. 

“We’re not trying to be fun-killers, we want people to enjoy the outdoors and go have a good time and all that sort of stuff. It’s just this location is just not that great a place to go,” Bettridge said.

Why is it closed? 

The Tintic Mill has been closed for as long as Bettridge can remember. That’s over 20 years, he said. 

The primary reason behind the closure is that the arsenic levels in the ground are very high. 

“It’s an old mine, some of the mine (remnants) sort of dripped arsenic into the ground and into the waters,” Bettridge said.

Related: 500 dead fish found in Herriman pond

If you spend time in the restricted area, there’s a chance of getting very sick.  

“It’s always been a little sketchy as far as whether or not it’s a healthy place to hang out.” 

The mine is also falling apart, so there are chunks of cement that could fall and hurt people. 

“It’s up on a steep hillside, the ground’s not stable enough to begin with,” Bettridge said. 

Will it ever reopen? 

It’s not very likely for the mill to reopen, Bettridge said. To clean up the area would be “extensively expensive.” 

“It would take probably an act of Congress to get to that point where we would have funds available to go and clean stuff up,” he said. “Until that does happen — if it happens — this area will be closed.” 

Bettridge said there are plenty of other areas in Utah that are open to the public. 

“We’re lucky here in Utah that most everywhere in the outdoors is open and available to people,” he said. 

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Officials warn people to stay away from the old Tintic Mill