Given all of the wonders that Utah has to offer, it’s understandable that some would want to explore the modern ruins of the old Tintic Standard Reduction Mill near Goshen. However, people must resist that temptation because it’s a health hazard and state officials have said they will cite trespassers who come on to the closed property.
The mill is part of the Goshen Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area, but the site is closed because it’s extremely unsafe, according to the state Division of Wildlife Resources. Tests on the site revealed elevated levels of arsenic and lead. Ingesting high levels of arsenic can cause death while lead exposure can cause numerous health problems including cardiovascular disease, decreased kidney function and impaired immune systems.
We can understand why some people would want to explore the site, which features decaying examples of massive industry. Additionally, many of the walls on the structure have been defaced with myriad examples of bizarre and colorful graffiti.
Add those elements together and you’ve got a crackerjack background for any number of aspiring social media mavens looking for something interesting to share with their followers on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.
Whatever the temptation, it’s not worth it. In addition to the fact that state conservation officers will cite you for trespassing, the site is dangerous and people should stay away. Also, it seems silly for people to break the law and then share evidence of their act by posting about it online.
The mill is part of Utah’s long history of mineral extraction. Its historic nature has been recognized — it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. We would encourage the state to find a way to provide some access to the site so that Utahns can visit a chapter of the state’s history on public property.
It’s unfortunate that the health risks make offering such access unlikely. Although the mill was in operation for only five years, its deleterious environmental impact has lasted for around nine decades.
Sadly, there’s no sign that the site’s environmental toll will come to an end any time soon. The state says there’s no plans to remediate the site because of prohibitive costs.
The Tintic Mill is another reminder that people need to be safe around Utah’s old mine sites. Last year, we wrote that thousands of abandoned mines remain uncapped and will likely be for decades. Fortunately for Utah County, nearly two-thirds of the 476 identified mine openings in the county have been closed.
There is limited funding to close abandoned mines, so we encourage everyone to be responsible and exercise caution about these sites on private or public lands. While tempting to some, it’s important to remember that many of these sites contain potential hazards including unstable roofs, toxic air and old explosives. It would be tragic for someone to accidentally fall down a vertical shaft 1,000 feet deep.
No photo or social media experience is worth losing a life over.