·  USW

USW Expresses Concern Over Great Salt Lake Expansion Project

Contact: Diane Heminway, USW, 412-417-9078, dheminway@usw.org
             Lynne Hancock, USW, 615-828-6169, lhancock@usw.org

Salt Lake City—The United Steelworkers (USW) Union is concerned that the proposed expansion project of Great Salt Lake Minerals Corporation will negatively affect the ecology of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

In a letter to Jason Gipson, Utah project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USW District 12 Director Robert LaVenture wrote that Great Salt Lake Minerals Corporation “has erroneously referred to their mineral extraction operations as ‘natural,’ ‘environmentally responsible’ and ‘green,’ while failing to divulge the long-term ecological consequences on the Great Salt Lake watershed’s ecosystem.”

Great Salt Lake Minerals’ proposal to add 91,000 acres of solar evaporative ponds will impact 80,000 acres of water and wetlands, LaVenture wrote. He cited the Army Corps of Engineer’s Public Notice Number 2007-00121 which states, “The proposed project would result in approximately 80,000 acres of permanent adverse impacts to waters.”

LaVenture  noted that a project of this size could negatively impact not only the water, but the wetlands, wildlife habitat, plants and birds in the area.

The corporation’s proposed expansion involves the construction of ponds on the east and west sides of the lake. Since these areas are biologically sensitive, LaVenture recommended that alternatives should be examined and if the decision is to proceed with the pond building, a reclamation and restoration plan be put in place prior to their erection.

The proposal also includes the construction of dikes and causeways using about 540,000 cubic yards of fill discharged into Bear River Bay and 4,700,000 cubic yards of fill discharged into water in the vicinity of Clyman Bay. LaVenture’s letter stated that the impact of this discharged fill on water levels, water quality, wildlife and the food chain could be negative. The structures also could be a pathway for predators to disturb bird nesting areas. They also could intensify flooding when lake levels fluctuate.  A fully-funded reclamation plan should be in place prior to the construction of these structures.

Great Salt Lake Minerals promotes itself as a responsible corporation. Yet its parent company, Compass Minerals, owns another firm, North American Salt, which has repeatedly failed to comply with federal laws governing worker health and safety and labor relations at its salt mine in Cote Blanche, Louisiana. The USW believes this demonstrates a corporate culture of disdain for important federal laws.

To read Mr. LaVenture’s letter to Jason Gipson, Utah project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, click HERE.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in the metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, energy, government and service sectors.

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