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AM News Brief: Final Little Cottonwood Hearing, Nuclear Project Downsized & Protecting Against Wildfire Smoke

A photo of cars parked on the side of the road at Albion Basin.
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iStock Editorial
The final public hearing on the Little Cottonwood Canyon traffic plan is being held Tuesday night. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, July 20, 2021

State

Nuclear Project Downsized

Plans for a first-of-its-kind nuclear project funded by Utah towns are being downsized. The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems was slated to build 12 small reactors in Idaho, but now says it will only build six. Some towns had withdrawn from the project because of cost. The plant will now be less expensive, but the cooperative says it will be more efficient, with the amount of power produced dropping only 23% from what was originally planned. Not all of that energy is spoken for yet, but a spokesperson says he’s confident they will get subscribers for all of it. The Utah towns that have invested in the project will get a share of the energy it produces once it’s operational, and the plant is projected to be running in 2029. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Parents Sue Utah Facility Over Teens Death

In 2019, a girl from Bermuda died by suicide at West Ridge Academy, a teen treatment facility in West Jordan. The Salt Lake Tribune reports her parents filed a lawsuit against the facility last month, alleging the treatment center should have done more to prevent their child’s death. The parents’ lawyers have tried to get records that might explain why Bermudian officials sent their daughter to West Ridge in the first place, but the lawsuit says the facility hasn’t handed them over. The litigation comes as a new state law requires centers to develop suicide prevention policies. Read the full story. — Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

This story is part of Sent Away, an investigative reporting partnership between The Salt Lake Tribune and KUER, with support from APM Reports.

Final Little Cottonwood Hearing

The final public hearing on the Little Cottonwood Canyon traffic plan is being held Tuesday night. Utah's Department of Transportation is considering either widening the existing road that leads to Alta and Snowbird resorts and expanding bus service, or building a gondola. UDOT estimates that by 2050, travel time on Little Cottonwood Canyon will more than double on the busiest days of the year. In late June, the transportation department released an environmental impact statement on the two plans to reduce traffic in the area. Tuesday’s hearing is being held virtually on Zoom from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. and participants must register in advance. The public comment period extends through Sept. 3. — Pamela McCall

Hiker Death In Provo Canyon

The body of the 40-year-old man who fell to his death in Provo Canyon over the weekend has been recovered. Adrian Vanderklis of Roosevelt was hiking with his fiance's 9-year-old son near Bridal Veil Falls when he fell Saturday. The Utah County Sheriff's office said it's not known exactly how Vanderklis fell, but it appears he died immediately after. The boy's mother called for help Saturday, saying she could see her son from below, crying and alone. Search and rescue teams — aided by a helicopter — discovered Vanderklis's body at an elevation of about 5,800 feet on a nearly vertical slope. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Protecting People From Wildfire Smoke

Wildfire smoke came to the region early this year and is likely to stick around until the fall. Sarah Coefield, an air quality specialist with Missoula County, Montana, said that especially with long duration smoke events, it’s important to know that wildfire smoke does end up indoors. She said it’s not enough to close doors and windows to protect people’s health.To stay safe, Coefielld recommends using an air purifier with a true HEPA filter, or upgrading the filter in your forced air system. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau