Come September, the Davis County Burn Plant could be operating at new, higher pollution levels.

But first the plant must clear a 30-day public comment period, expected to open in two weeks, on a revised permit that would allow the plant to increase the amount of one kind of air pollution it produces.David Kopta, engineer with the Utah Bureau of Air Quality, said the plant could be approved to operate at the new levels by September.

The amount of garbage the plant can currently process is limited by a permit granted when it was built. The permit only allows the release of 78 parts per million of nitrogen oxide into the air, according to Jim Young, Davis County Solid Waste Management Special Service District manager.

As a result, 150 tons of garbage are being diverted from the burn plant to the nearby Davis County Landfill. Even with the reduction, the plant presently releases 120 parts per million, Young said.

"The limit was unrealistic. Based on the engineering studies we thought we would release 78 parts per million per hour," Young said, noting that current standards prevent economic operation.

Young wants the state to approve a permit to allow 350 parts per million. The average of U.S. burn plants is 350 parts per million and the Canadian government has a limit of 400 parts per million for nitrogen oxide levels.

Kopta said the bureau has not yet decided whether it will support the request of the service district. The bureau could impose stiffer limits if it felt that the plant could still operate economically.

"We will ask for the lowest emission rate achievable," Kopta said.

A public hearing is not required in order to change the permit unless it is requested during the first 15 days of the public comment period.

During the next two weeks, state air officials will conduct computer modeling of pollution dispersion to help determine permit limits. They will also determine whether additional pollution controls will be needed at the incinerator.

The burn plant, which cost $54 million in construction and finance costs, produces steam that is sold to Hill Air Force Base.