Murray Smelters

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This page was last updated on November 29, 2018.

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From the roadside marker erected by Sons of Utah Pioneers:

MURRAY SMELTING -- Gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc were found at Alta, Park City and Tintic in the years 1864-1869. Since no smelting was done in the state or the surrounding area, smelters had to be built. Billy Morgan built the first smelter at 5189 South State Street on American Hill in 1869. The Woodhull Brothers built the first furnace on State Street by Big Cottonwood Creek June 1870. In 1871 the Germania Refinery & Wasatch Smelter were erected west of State Street on opposite sides of Little Cottonwood Creek. The Hanauer Smelter was built in 1872. The Horn Silver Smelter at 200 West and 4800 South and the Highland Boy Plant at 800 West. Bullion came on stream 1880, 1886. American Smelting and Refining Company took over the Germania Plant operations and later built a plant at 5200 South State St. which began operations in 1902. Smelting and ore refining grew from eight tons to thousands of tons of ore per day. The need for smelting eventually decreased and, in November 1950, the great smelting operation at Murray faded into history. Smelting in Murray had directly employed 10,000 people and, indirectly, thousands more. Many of these people were pioneers who settled in the Murray community prior to the coming of the railroad. #1 Murray Chapter SUP

Highland Boy Copper Smelter: (Bullion Street, about 5600 So., west of 700 West in Murray) The Highland Boy mine, in Bingham Canyon, was owned by Samuel Newhouse and his Boston Consolidated Mining Company. Samuel Newhouse sold out to William Rockefeller and Henry H. Rogers, of Standard Oil, which then built the first copper smelter in the valley. Bullion Street was the northern boundary of the smelter. Schools, a park, a fire station, and finally homes were built on the site. A Supreme Court order shut the smelter down in 1907 because to too much pollution. Dispute over revenue sharing from mining and smelting taxation led to the creation of Granite, Jordan, and Murray school districts, the latter preferring to "go it alone." (Salt Lake Valley Historical Tour, Ron Andersen, 1997)

Utah Sampler: (tall building, east of 380 West, 5500 So.) Utah Ore Sampling Company (UOS) built this sampler in 1909. Consolidated mining companies did their own sampling. This was the largest independent sampler between Missouri and California. After the ore was crushed and analyzed for content and quality, smelters decided on the basis of the samples, whether to buy larger quantities of the ore. Ore came here from all over the west. Most of the ores sampled here went to the ASARCO smelter for processing. The close proximity of the two plants allowed the railroads to treat them as a single destination for billing purposes. The large "Thawed House," where loads of frozen ore were completely thawed before they were run through the sample plant, still remains. This mill was unique because it contained the only railroad spur that connected to both the Denver and Rio Grande and the Union Pacific Railroads. The company operated until the 1950's, when the smelting industry in Murray ceased. (Salt Lake Valley Historical Tour, Ron Andersen, 1997)

American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO): (5200 Major Street, north of Murray High School) ASARCO is still in business outside of Utah. It was part of the Standard Oil conglomerate, with Rockefeller and Rogers heavily invested. The smoke stacks, some administrative buildings on the east side, and slag pile remain. It is a "potential" superfund cleanup site. What's left of Bergertown can be seen across Little Cottonwood Creek to the northwest. The two large smoke stacks were built in 1918 at a height of 465 feet to help dissipate the large concentrations of sulphur. The brickwork is some of the finest for this type of structure. (Salt Lake Valley Historical Tour, Ron Andersen, 1997)

The following comes from National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Historic Resources of Murray City, 1850-1950, Salt Lake County, Utah

Due to an abundance of water, seven different smelters were built in Murray alone during this period. Two more came later: the Highland Boy, a copper smelter, and ASARCO, which purchased and consolidated the remaining smaller smelters between 1899 and 1902. Out of the nine smelters which operated in Murray between 1870 and 1950, physical evidence remains from only the last, ASARCO. A list of Murray smelter follows:

Names Dates of Operation Approximate Location
Woodhull Brothers (later Morgan) 1870-early 1880s State Street & Big Cottonwood Creek (4200 South)
W. & M. Robins 1870-early 1880s State Street & Little Cottonwood Creek (5100 South)
American Hill 1870s 5189 South State Street (east side)
Wasatch Silver Lead Works 1871 -1880s 4850 South 80 West
Germania 1872-1902 Little Cottonwood Creek & railroad (4900 South)
Morgan (later Hanauer) 1874-1902 Big Cottonwood Creek & railroad (4200 South)
Franklyn (later Horn Silver) 1880-1890 4800 South 153 West
Highland Boy 1899-1908 5400 South near Jordan River (800 W.)
American Smelting and Refining 1902-1950 5200 South State Street

Murray leaders had lured ASARCO with promises of free land and water rights. The smelter would dominate the city's economy and its skyline for the next three decades. ASARCO dismantled the Germania and Hanauer plants, leaving the Germania slag heap the only reminder of the earlier smelter. When the ASARCO's Murray plant was completed in 1902, it was the most up-to-date and largest lead smelter in the world, with a capacity of 1200 tons of lead per day processed in eight blast furnaces. ASARCO built several warehouses and the first of two massive brick chimneys in 1902.

In 1904 and 1906 lawsuits brought by local farmers sought injunctions against Murray (and other) smelters due to the effects of high-sulphur smoke and flue dust on crops and livestock. Due to court injunctions the Highland Boy smelter was dismantled, and ASARCO entered into an agreement to compensate plaintiff farmers and work on a permanent solution to the problem. Under the agreement, ASARCO was able to continue production while conducting a program of research on the effects of smelter smoke. The program included experimental farms in Murray and eventually resulted in the construction of a second stack, built in 1918, a 455-foot structure designed to better disseminate the smoke.

ASARCO processed lead and other ores continually between 1902 and 1930. The plant had to closed for seven months in 1931 as a result of the closure of mines during the Great Depression. The smelter never fully recovered and experienced periodic layoffs and closures until World War II. Production revived during the war years, but by October 15, 1949, ASARCO had begun moving its resources to its Garfield plant and by November 1950 the Murray plant was closed completely.

Early Murray Smelters

Woodhull Brothers

March 1869
The first smelter in Murray was built on what is known as "American Hill," at approximately 5200 South on the east side of State Street. ("The History Of Murray Smelters, 1870-1950"; informal history distributed to walking tours)

June 1870
"In June, 1870, the Woodhull Brothers built a furnace eight miles south of Salt Lake City, at the junction of the State Road with Big Cottonwood Creek. From these works was shipped the first bullion produced from mines in Utah." (Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints, 1873, page 720; quoted by Bancroft, History of Salt Lake City, 1886, page 703)

(Using today's street numbering system, Big Cottonwood Creek passes under State Street, known previously as the State Road, at about 4200 South. The original Utah Southern line crossed Big Cottonwood Creek about two blocks west of the State Road. This smelter site later became the Morgan/Hanauer smelter.)

(This site, on the north side if Big Cottonwood Creek and immediately west of the State Road [State Street], was later occupied by the Murray Laundry, built in 1914 and closed in 1977. All the buildings associated with the historic Murray Laundry facility were demolished in 1982. The site was later used as a dumping ground for waste dirt, asphalt, and concrete. In 1999, underground storage tanks were discovered and environmental issues for the immediate 2.5-acre site of the laundry were taken care of in 2013 by removal of contaminated soils. The western side of the 200-acre site, along Main Street, is today [2018] the site of a large multi-unit development known as Artesian Springs.)

August 6, 1870
The first trial of the Woodhull Brothers' furnace was started when the fires were lighted on Thursday August 4th, and the first bullion came out on Saturday August 6th. The resulting 5,000 pounds of bullion came from 10,000 pounds of ore that was a mixture of ores from Park City, Bingham, the Cottonwood canyons, Tintic and Ophir. (Salt Lake Herald, August 7, 1870)

September 20, 1870
"First run of crude bullion at the first smelting works built in Utah, erected six miles south of Salt Lake by Woodhull Brothers." (Sloan, Gazetteer of Utah and Salt Lake City, 1874, page 31)

September 20, 1870
"It was on September 20, 1870, that the first run of crude bullion was made at the first smelter completed in Utah, that of the Woodhull Brothers, located on Big Cottonwood creek, eight miles south of this city. This bullion was obtained from the ores of Little Cottonwood canyon." (Deseret News, September 30, 1893)

Murray was at that time known as "Cottonwood" because it was at that location, at about 4900 South, that the Utah Southern crossed Little Cottonwood creek. Construction of the Utah Southern was delayed during June and July 1871 at the Little Cottonwood crossing while a trestle was built, 24 feet high and 600 feet long. (The line crossed Big Cottonwood Creek about a mile north at about 4200 South by way of a much smaller trestle.)

By March 1871, the Woodhull furnace had been sold to "McDonald & Whitney." "We have also been receiving a lot of bullion from McDonald & Whitney's, formerly Woodhull Bro's, furnace". (Salt Lake Herald, March 5, 1871)

Wasatch Smelter

January 1, 1877
"The Wasatch Smelter is located on the north bank of the Little Cottonwood stream opposite the Germania. It is the property of R. P. Lounesberry, and has been idle for a number of months. Recently, however, Conklin, Jones & Co., have leased it, put in a new water-jacket furnace, erected a roasting oven, and made such improvements generally as will enable the leasers to do good and rapid work. They have a contract to run on a portion of the ore from the Old Telegraph mine in Bingham, and although it is found by other smelters that this ore is refractory, it is proposed to work it at the Wasatch by a process which will enable them to smelt it separately. The furnace has only been running ore one month, during which time about 100 tons of bullion have been produced. Seventeen men are employed at this smelter." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1877)

Horn Silver (Francklyn)

The Horn Silver (later Francklyn) smelter was located at about 4200 South and West Temple streets in Murray, on the south side of Big Cottonwood Creek, where it was crossed by the Utah Southern (later UP).

Germania Smelter

(About 4900 South and West Temple streets)

The following comes from the January 1, 1877 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune:

The Germania Smelter is situated on Little Cottonwood creek, about six miles south of Salt Lake City, and on the line of the Utah Southern railroad. It is owned by a foreign corporation, and perhaps is one of the most complete works of the kind on the Pacific coast. It is conducted with skill and energy, and turns out the purest lead bullion produced in Utah.

The machinery about this establishment is of the lead manufacture, and does its work constantly and without stoppages. The engine, which has been in use four years, is a very fine one, of forty horse-power, being of ample capacity to keep up the blasts of both the furnaces, wile the pump, by the timely use of which the works have been saved several times from destruction by fire, is one of the neatest to be found at any of the smelters. It is capable throwing three hundred gallons of water per minute!

During the past year many improvements have been made. A new steam boiler to supply the place of the old one has been put in; new refining works for separating the silver from the base bullion have been constructed and will be in operation in the course of a few months, and other improvements of a minor character have replaced less convenient and substantial things about the place. At present the Germania has both of its water jacket furnaces in full blast. They are in point of safety to the health and lives of those employed about them, unsurpassed by any furnaces at the smelters of Salt Lake county. The fume condensers are almost perfect, so that the poisonous dust arising with the smoke, is caught before it reaches the open air, while the feed doors of the furnaces are so arranged as to make it impossible for fumes to escape into the building and lead the men.

The ores smelted at these works are brought from various parts of the country. besides those produced in Utah mines, which form the basis of the supply, a considerable quantity of high grade ores from Montana and Idaho is used in connection with the low grade lead ores from our own mines, for the purpose of raising the percentages of silver in the bullion turned out above the standard of one hundred and ten ounces to the ton, which gives the bullion a readier sale in the market.

The process of preserving the standard of bullion is done in a manner peculiar to the Germania. When the contents of the several classes of ores have been ascertained by sampling, a given quantity from each lot is spread out on the floor in layers one upon the other, until a pile of fifty or a hundred tons of all the requisite classes is accumulated, and then from this the furnaces are supplied, one pile being used up while another is being built. In this manner the grade of bullion produced is always kept approximately near to the required standard, so that the managers have an idea from day to day what will be produced for a week ahead.

On an average forty men are constantly employed, running two shifts every twenty-four hours. But the works are so perfect about the Germania, that leading is very rare.

During the past year this smelter has produced 1,700 tons of base bullion of the average value of $235 per ton, or a total valuation of $262,500. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1877)

The following comes from "Department Of The Interior, Statistics And Technology Of The Precious Metals," published in 1885.

Germania Smelting and Refining Company. This is the only refining works in the territory. It was completed in the autumn of 1872 as refining works only. Smelting furnaces were added in the spring of 1874, since which time the works have been running continuously in some department. It is situated on the Utah Southern railroad, 7 miles south of Salt Lake City, and consists of one reverberatory furnace for roasting ore and matte or slagging flue-dust, three shaft smelting furnaces, three softening and refining furnaces This is among the most important metallurgical works of the west. It cost a large sum of money, is complete, well managed, and probably profitable. In the last few years it has divided with the Morgan and the Mingo smelters the greater part of the trade in Utah ores. For a description of the works, necessarily imperfect owing to later changes and improvements, reference may be had to the United States Mining Commissioner's report for 1873, page 261; and for 1875, page 416.

Because of the growing production of the Bingham mines, along with other mines throughout the territory, in 1872 two smelters (the Germania and the Mingo) were built on the Utah Southern at Murray, four miles north of Sandy. (Arrington: Abundance, p. 207)

The Germania lead smelter was located near Murray. The Mingo smelter was located at Sandy.

At 150 W. Vine Street, was the Germania smelter, where Anton Eilers, the father of modern silver and lead smelting perfected his chemical theory. (Salt Lake Valley Historical Tour, Ron Andersen, 1997)

It was reported in December 1874 that the Germania Works smelter was using coke made from Sanpete coal, which the smelter's superintendent said was equal to that imported from St. Louis. Utah imported over 7,000 tons of coke during 1873. (Engineering and Mining Journal, December 5, 1874, p. 353)

May 1878
"Germania Works - The Germania has commenced refining again, after a cessation of three or four years they expect to make 400 or 500 tons of lead a month, and to find a market for it in China. The price at which it can be bought in London and taken either by sailing ships or by steamer through the Suez Canal to China, is such as to leave them a fair margin." (Deseret News, May 15, 1878, citing Utah Commercial, for May)

For the year 1879, the Germania Smelting & Refining Works refined 2,301,276 pounds of lead, 344,836 ounces of silver, and 2,202 ounces of gold. (Deseret News, January 7, 1880)

Morgan/Hanauer Smelter

(About 4300 South and West Temple streets)

The following comes from the January 1, 1877 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune:

The Morgan Smelter, situated on the south bank of the Big Cottonwood stream, and close to the line of the Utah Southern railroad, is a new works, and considering it has but one furnace, it is a very superior smelter, if the quality and not quantity of bullion produced by it are facts to judge from. It has been completed and running about thirty days altogether, during which time some thirty-five car lots of bullion have been turned out, the average capacity of the one stack being sixteen tons every twenty-four hours. But owing to the limited supply of ore to be had at present, twelve tons is its average daily product. When it was first fired up, to test its capacity, it was put under full blast and given all the ore it could take. The result was two car loads every twenty-four hours were produced.

A breakage in the machinery delayed operations for a week, early in December, and the fact that a sufficient supply of ore is hard to get, the number of tons they produced in one month was limited to 350. Of course the furnace in this smelter is the chief feature, being the largest stack in the country. It is a water-jacket furnace, on which Mr. Morgan has a patent. Each of the four sides is hung to the deck beam by hinges, and the whole are kept in position by an iron belt, which may at any time be removed, thus permitting the jackets to be swung up to the roof of the building to allow repairs to the furnace, causing only a few hours delay.

The machinery is all first class, the buildings and coal sheds conveniently and substantially built, and when all the designed improvements are finished this will be a paying smelter, turning out superior quality of lead bullion. Twenty-five picked men, all of extensive experience in smelting, and none other, are employed. They work eight-hour shifts, and the company pays the highest wages. The smelter is the property of B. W. Morgan & Co.

In 1874 the Morgan/Hanauer smelter was built in Murray, making the Salt Lake Valley one of the smelting centers of the west. (Arrington: Abundance, p. 207)

The Hanauer Smelting Works was located on the south bank of Big Cottonwood Creek, west of Main Street at about 4200 South. According to a UP engineering map from the ICC valuation period, "Bullion Spur" branched off of the Utah Southern line (later known as the Provo Subdivision) in an eastern direction for a distance of about 1200 feet. The points of the Bullion Spur switch was almost exactly on the line between Township 1 South, and Township 2 South, both within Range 1 West.

About 1000 feet south of Bullion Spur was the brick works of Western Fire Clay Company, which was located between the UP and D&RGW tracks (including a bit of joint trackage), just north of the Murray city limits, at about 4300 South (Fireclay Avenue).

January 1885
The Hanauer smelter was completely destroyed by fire on January 16, 1885. The fire was caused by an overturned slag pot. (Engineering and Mining Journal, January 24, 1885, p. 60)

March 11, 1885
The Hanauer smelter was restarted. The rebuilt smelter had a larger capacity. (Engineering and Mining Journal, March 7, 1885, p. 198)

Utah Consolidated (Highland Boy)

(About 5700 South and 950 West, on the east side of the Jordan River)

May 1899
Utah Consolidated completed its copper smelter in Murray during May 1899. Construction had begun in August 1898. Utah Consolidated was controlled by Rockefeller interests. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1899)

(Read more about Utah Consolided mining company at Bingham)

December 1907
To solve its smelting problem, stemming from the smoke litigation suit decision in November 1906, Utah Consolidated purchased land in Tooele County "just over the mountain from the mine in what is known as Pine Canyon, and not far from the town of Tooele." The smelter would use plans already drawn up by the Amalgamated Copper Company at Anaconda in Montana. A 10-mile railroad would be built to connect the smelter with the three railroads serving Garfield: Western Pacific; Rio Grande Western; and San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake. (Deseret News, December 14, 1907)

January 1, 1908
Utah Consolidated closed its smelter in Murray. All work at the mine was to be reduced to development work only, pending the opening of a new smelter in Pine Canyon, four miles above the town of Tooele. A tramway over the Oquirrh range was planned, as the best method to reduce the railroad transportation costs of 40 cents per ton being charged by Rio Grande Western to transport ore from Bingham Canyon to the smelters. Judge Marshall's decree was to take effect on January 6, 1908, shutting down all smelters in Salt Lake Valley due to sulfur and arsenic emissions causing damage to farmers' crops. The mining company stated that it could not ship its ore to the newly completed Garfield smelter due to that smelter not having sufficient furnace capacity. The Utah Consolidated smelter had opened in 1899 and was the first copper smelter in the Salt Lake City area. Bingham Consolidated had been the second copper smelter, and the United States smelter was the third. (Deseret News, December 24, 1907)

(Read more about the Utah Consolidated's new smelter near Tooele)

American Smelting & Refining Co. (Asarco)

In 1897 Utah Consolidated constructed the first smelter dedicated to the processing of copper ores. This first smelter in the Salt Lake Valley just south of Murray for the treatment of ores from the Highland Boy mine. (Billings)

In 1899, American Smelting & Refining Company was organized by combining the Germania and Hanauer smelters at Murray, the Mingo smelter at Sandy, and the Ibex smelter at Leamington.

April 1899
American Smelting & Refining Company (ASARCO) was organized in April 1899 to consolidate the nationwide smelting interests of Standard Oil of New Jersey, known as "the Rockefeller crowd."

Utah Consolidated (Highland Boy) completed its copper smelter in Murray during May 1899. Construction had begun in August 1898. Utah Consolidated was controlled by Rockefeller interests. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 30, 1899)

May 1, 1899
American Smelting & Refining Company was incorporated on May 1, 1899. The new smelting company's holdings in Utah included the Germania, Pennsylvania, Hanauer, and Ibex smelters. (Salt Lake Mining Review, May 15, 1899, p. 7)

December 22, 1900
The Germania and Mingo smelters of the Asarco company were handling 20,000 tons per month. The nearby Utah Consolidated smelter was handling 6,000 tons per month. (Engineering and Mining Journal, December 22, 1900)

In early 1902, ASARCO completed its new lead smelter at Murray, adjacent to site of former Germania smelter. Construction had begun in 1901. (USGS Professional Paper 38, p. 386)

July 1902
ASARCO built its new smelter at Murray, with operations starting in July 1902, using a total of eight blast furnaces and having a capacity of 1200 tons per day.

January 1908
Utah Consolidated closed its smelter in January 1908. (Mining Science, January 2, 1908, p. 29)

Utah's three big smelters at Murray, Midvale, and Garfield were closed by a 150-day strike that was settled on June 30, 1046. (Murray Eagle, June 20, 1946)

October 1948
The ASARCO smelter at Murray reopened after a two month shutdown. The delay had been to insufficient ores from Australia and South America, which had to compete with other cargo as ship ballast. Also, the price of lead was being held below costs of mining due to wartime restrictions. Many lead mining operations in the western U.S. were still idle due to depressed lead prices. (Kane County Standard (Kanab), November 5, 1948)

April 1949
By the time of its 50th anniversary, ASARCO at its Murray smelter was processing ores from Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada. (Murray Eagle, April 1, 1949)

October 15, 1949
After operating at Murray since 1902, the smelter of ASARCO began the shutdown of its operations in preparation for final closing. Between 1902 and 1922, the smelter processed ore from Park City, Bingham, Tintic, Southern Utah, Southern Idaho, and Nevada. Since the mid 1920s, the smelter's entire tonnage had been produced from just one of its eight blast furnaces due to declining tonnage of the combined lead, silver and zinc ore (known as galena) coming to the smelter. At least 100 of the smelter's 250 employees were to be reassigned to ASARCO's copper smelter at Garfield.

October 1950
The plant of the closed ASARCO smelter at Murray was sold to a group of Salt Lake City and West Coast businessmen. The slag pile had been sold to Utah Construction Company for the making of insulation, road bed material and road fill. (Murray Eagle, October 15, 1950) The smelter property was sold to a newly organized company called Murray-American Mill Company, with the sale taking place in September 1950. (Murray Eagle, October 19, 1951)

October 1951
In October 1951 the property (117 acres) was sold to three Riverton businessmen, Gwynne Page, Donald Page, and J. H. Berrett. Most of the buildings on the site were sold by Murrray-American Mill Company for their salvage value, with but a few remaining, along with the two smokestacks. (Murray Eagle, October 19, 1951)

February 1952
A 22-acre parcel of the smelter property was sold to Buehner Cinder Block Company. (Murray Eagle, October 19, 1951)

January 18, 1994
By the mid 1990s, on-site remnants of the smelter operation included two large smoke stacks, a foundation wall of one building, the old office building, and the slag piles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on January 18, 1994, that the Murray Smelter site be placed on the National Priorities List, usually known as "Superfund".

The Murray smelter site is the former location of a large lead smelter in Murray City. The smelter operated for about 77 years, from 1872 until 1949. ASARCO operated it from 1902 to 1949. The lead smelting and arsenic refining operations affected the soil, ground water, surface water and sediment at the 142 acre site and the surrounding area.

The Murray smelter site was northwest of the corner of State Street and 53rd South Street in the City of Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah. Murray is approximately 6 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The Murray smelter was a lead smeltering facility which the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) operated from 1902 through 1949. The smelting process produced large amounts of a dark, rock-like waste material called slag that contains high concentrations of heavy metals such as lead. During and after the operation of the smelter, the slag was used widely as railroad ballast, road base, parking lot gravel, and fill. When the Murray Smelter was operating, it also released metals and other materials to the air, resulting in contamination of the soil around the site. Nearly 100 smelters operated in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

November 1995
The two smoke stacks and building remnants remained on site while ASARCO and EPA negotiated a cleanup. The site's cleanup started in November 1995, and was completed with the demolition of the smoke stacks in August 2000.

August 6, 2000
The stacks of the Murray smelter were brought down by the use of explosives at their bases, making the stacks collapse to the ground.

October 2007
The site today [2008] is the location of a new, state-of-the-art hospital, known as the Intermountain Medical Center. Groundbreaking took place September 2003, and the new facility opened in late October 2007. It replaced an earlier Cottonwood Hospital, which had opened also in Murray, Utah in 1963. The parts of the site most affected by environmental issues have been permanently paved over by the parking lots and access roads of the hospital and the adjacent transit center.