SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 37, September 15, 2011

Bonneville Salt Flats Environmental Assessment Released

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding requirements for replenishing salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) when potash is mined on adjoining lands. The document, which can be read here (pdf), offers three options for a salt replenishment program. SEMA has joined with other organizations as part of the “Save the Salt Coalition” urging the BLM to mandate a permanent replenishment program that guarantees the same quantity and quality of salt be returned to the BSF, an option provided for in the EA. As part of the Coalition, SEMA will submit extensive comments to the BLM in response to the EA.

The BSF is a national landmark under the jurisdiction of the BLM. Hundreds of speed records have been set at this rare, unique geological site over the past 100 years. Originally 96,000 acres in size, the BSF has shrunk to about 30,000 acres as a direct consequence of an adjoining mining operation in which potash is removed from the salt. Between 1963 and 1982, an estimated 11 million tons of salt was withdrawn from the BSF. A prototype salt replenishment program from 1997 to 2002 demonstrated that salt brine could be pumped back onto the salt flats to stabilize the landmark and its underlying aquifer. The BLM allowed the program to expire, but it would be reinstated under the EA option supported by SEMA and the Coalition.  

For more information, please contact Stuart Gosswein at stuartg@sema.org.

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