Fairmont Park pond reopens in Salt Lake City after no mercury contamination found

Fairmont Pond is surrounded by police tape and warning signs telling people not to fish or wade in the pond on Wednesday. Additional tests found no evidence of mercury in the pond as of Saturday.

Fairmont Pond is surrounded by police tape and warning signs telling people not to fish or wade in the pond on Wednesday. Additional tests found no evidence of mercury in the pond as of Saturday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — The pond at Fairmont Park reopened to the public Monday after extensive testing revealed there was no mercury contamination in the water, officials said.

The Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests over the past several days and determined the pond was safe to reopen.

"We are pleased with the positive outcome of the extensive investigation of the Fairmont Park pond," Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Monday in a news release. "Our top priority is always Salt Lake City residents' health and safety. In this situation, our teams and protocols worked exactly as they should. We acted quickly and resolutely in protecting public and environmental health."

Previously on Saturday, city officials said there was no evidence of mercury in the pond after additional testing was conducted, and said they expected it to reopen today.

Both the city and the Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests of the pond's water in Sugar House after testing by the city found mercury in the water Wednesday.

Public utilities crews became concerned about the pond after discovering an oily sheen on the water's surface on Aug. 20, Monday's news release said. City crews put booms on the water to absorb the substance and prevent it from spreading further.

The city hired a private contractor to remove the substance and then tested samples of the substance. Test results of the samples were positive for mercury, and the pond was closed to the public on Thursday.

"The safety of every Salt Laker is something my administration takes very seriously, and in situations like these that arise, your health, your security and communicating with you will always be our number one priority," Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a tweet.

The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities is still working to determine why mercury was detected in the sheen. The substance that was found on the pond's surface is suspected to be related to mineral oil from a former electric transformer at a construction site near the pond, officials said. However, mineral oil does not contain mercury.

City officials are also working with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to analyze fish in the pond to make sure they are not contaminated by mercury. The analysis is expected to take several weeks, and city officials recommend that people not consume fish from the pond until the analysis is completed.

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