The 18-person panel includes both backers and critics of Kennecott

By Jeremiah Stettler
The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake County has picked more than a dozen panelists to snoop into the seismic safety of Kennecott's tailings pile in northwest Magna.
The investigation comes after revelations that Kennecott, in the early 1990s, concealed the possibility of its mine-waste impoundment rupturing during a massive earthquake and inundating a nearby neighborhood.
With a $250,000 donation from Kennecott to pay for the probe, the county assembled a committee Tuesday that will oversee an independent study into the company's tailings. The county recruited a funeral director, a chamber of commerce president, a state senator, an LDS bishop and a hodgepodge of community members to serve on the 18-member panel.
The 18-member committee - which Kennecott hopes will restore public confidence in its mining operation - will include company defenders such as Magna Community Council member Laura Jo McDermaid and critics such as Michael Sullivan, who publicly threatened the copper giant with a class-action lawsuit.
State Rep. Carl Duckworth, a Democrat and longtime Kennecott employee who lives in Magna, will serve as one of five public officials on the panel.
Kennecott President Andrew Harding insists that the tailings pond is safe, but has promised Magna residents that he will pay for any lost property values if an independent study shows that the now-retired tailings dump continues to put homes at risk.
With the Salt Lake County Council's 6-0 endorsement of the panelists, the newly formed Kennecott Tailings Committee is expected to meet this month for the first time.