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Case Summary: EPA Issues RCRA Corrective Action Order to Expedite Cleanup at the US Magnesium Facility

On August 3, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an administrative order on consent under section 3008(h) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to US Magnesium LLC for cleanup work at the US Magnesium facility in Toole County, Utah. The RCRA order is intended to help address environmental and human health risks at the facility until EPA can finalize the cleanup plan under the Superfund program.

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Information about US Magnesium facility

The US Magnesium facility is located adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, 40 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The 4,525-acre facility has been producing magnesium and other materials since 1972. The waste streams at the facility contain dioxins, furans, hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The wastewater and 400-acre pond currently receiving it are highly acidic with a pH of approximately 1. Facility operations and waste disposal practices contaminated soil, air, surface water and groundwater. Although the area surrounding the facility is sparsely populated, investigations indicate uncontrolled waste on the property threatens the health of workers and the environment.

Information about the RCRA 3008(h) Order

On November 2, 2009, the EPA, with support from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, announced that it had added the US Magnesium site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). EPA entered into an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Consent Order under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, the Superfund law) with US Magnesium LLC on August 4, 2011. The CERCLA order requires US Magnesium to perform an extensive Remedial Investigation/and Feasibility Study (RI/FS).

In order to hasten cleanup activities while the Superfund RI/FS activities proceed, EPA issued a RCRA § 3008(h) Administrative Order on Consent to US Magnesium LLC on August 3, 2016. The RCRA order requires US Magnesium to perform certain operational changes and corrective action at or in connection with its facility. The order does not resolve US Magnesium’s alleged liability for violations of RCRA in a district court case other than the work it is undertaking pursuant to the order. Among other things, the RCRA order requires US Magnesium to:

  • Convey wastewater to the pond by pipes instead of by ditches as it is currently being conveyed,
  • Address contaminated soil and sediment from the ditches and other areas,
  • Install a cap that is a minimum of two feet in thickness using clayey soil,
  • Refurbish or abandon a sanitary lagoon,
  • Develop and implement a soil vapor assessment and, if necessary, mitigate soil vapor and
  • Establish institutional controls and post suitable warning signs to manage risk.

The work required under the RCRA § 3008(h) Administrative Order on Consent should help address risks at the US Magnesium until EPA selects the final remedy and US Magnesium conducts long-term cleanup activities under the Superfund process.

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Contact information

For more information, contact

David Duster
Environmental Scientist
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

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