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Bureau of Epidemiology

Environmental Epidemiology Program

Kennecott North Zone

kennecott north

The Kennecott North Zone site is an industrial area on the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains and at the south shore of Great Salt Lake. The site is next to the community of Magna. At the North Zone, Kennecott processes copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, arsenic, gold and silver-bearing ores taken from its pit about 15 miles south. Ore tailings are retained in a pond near the process facilities. Smelting and associated operations at the North Zone began in1905 and have been conducted under multiple owners. Kennecott purchased the facilities in 1959. The company has continued to reduce contaminant releases over the years by improving the facility smelter and process equipment, process methods, and waste handling procedures, however the wastes produced from processin gore contained hazardous substances.

Many years of smelting and processing ore mined in the central Oquirrh Mountain area, 20 miles south of the site, left extensive mine wastes. These wastes occur as sludge ponds, soils, slag piles and other smelter waste which have contaminated surface water in streams, ditches, ponds and wetlands, groundwater and soil in the area.

Lead, arsenic and selenium are the potential contaminants of concern. Long term exposures to these metals have been linked with various types of cancer, poisoning, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders and decreased body weight.

Currently Kennecott Utah Copper Company is cleaning up the site with state and federal oversight. Cleanup actions have included the removal of surface contamination and soils in Magna.

The site was proposed for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in January 1994. In 1995, Kennecott, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Utah signed an agreement, stating that Kennecott will continue the cleanups and EPA will defer final listing on the NPL.


A Public Health Assessment (PHA) was conducted for the Kennecott North Zone and surrounding area. The PHA was completed in 1996.