Earthquake causes chemical leak Rio Tinto Kennecott refinery

Local News

SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4 News) A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Wasatch Front Wednesday morning causing a hazmat situation at Salt Lake Valley refinery.

The earthquake caused a hydrochloric acid leak at Rio Tinto Kennecott’s refinery forcing it to halt all operations and evacuate personnel.

A chemical plume was released at the refinery and moved toward the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake County emergency officials said.

At the request of Governor Gary Herbert, the Utah National Guard was deployed to assist the Unified Fire Authority in monitoring the situation.

At a press conference with multiple county agencies, the Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Peterson said the leak was contained, and there was no more risk to residents. Peterson believes roughly 8,200 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked from a 12,000-gallon container sometime during the earthquake. 

Rio Tinto Kennecott confirmed all personnel and contractors were safe and accounted for. “The health and safety of our people and communities is our top priority,” company representatives said in a statement.

Kennecott did not give a timeframe for when it would begin operating again, but representatives said operations would start-up once they’re “confident it is safe.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced an emergency declaration Wednesday afternoon due to the quake and related incidents.

SR 201 was closed for more than 30 hours after the quake.

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