Proposals for a class five landfill on Promontory Point would allow Utah to store more out-of-state waste. Advocacy groups are worried about the potential environmental and economic impacts on the Great Salt Lake.
Located within 1,000 feet of the new landfill, the Great Salt Lake would be at risk, specifically from power plant waste.
Lynn de Freitas, the executive director of Friends of Great Salt Lake, said the byproduct-coal ash is one of the main concerns.
“It’s very dry and powdery and the prevailing winds on the Promontory Peninsula are pretty gusty and pretty consistent,” de Freitas said. “Even under the best of circumstances, I think it's really hard to guarantee that you’re preventing all potential fugitive dust from the operation from finding its way into the lake.”
The terrain of the area is at a slight incline and de Freitas said any seismic activity could jeopardize the structures of the landfill designed to keep the waste from contaminating the natural resources and wildlife in the area.
The environmental impacts would also lead to economic impacts for businesses that use the lake. Industries such as mineral extraction and brine shrimp are held to high product standards.
“The market for aquaculture wants to be sure that when they’re buying brine shrimp eggs from Great Salt Lake that it’s not tainted with mercury or various heavy metals,” de Freitas said. “It could be a problem for the product that they’re providing as a food source.”
If the landfill does take waste from other states, it would generate a large income. But de Freitas says it would be hard to replace the $1.3 billion in revenue the lake already brings in annually.