The Environmental Protection Agency still wants to cap the contaminated Sharon Steel tailings on the site of the defunct steel mill in Midvale, a move rejected a year ago by officials including the city's mayor.

At that time, Gov. Norm Bangerter threatened to sue the EPA to force another solution. The EPA officials then backed down and said they'd reconsider, ordering further studies.On Friday, the EPA released its preferred alternative for dealing with the lead- and arsenic-laced tail-ings on the mill site: cap them to a depth of 3 feet with clay, soil and vegetation, then restrict future use of the site.

Also, said J. Sam Vance, the EPA's project manager for the Sharon Steel site, groundwater should be pumped and treated so that it is cleansed of the contamination.

The agency has set a public meeting for Jan. 9, 1991, in Midvale Middle School, 1238 Pioneer St., to discuss the proposal.

This new plan does not derail the remedial action planned for residential properties away from the mill site, which have also been contaminated by tailings. State and federal officials still intend to dig up the soil from residents' yards and deposit it on the mill site.

Vance, who is stationed in Denver, said the EPA is continuing to evaluate the potential of reprocessing some of the 14 million cubic yards of tailings to reduce the levels of lead and arsenic.

After work begins on a solution to the tailings, he said, "dust control, important in protecting residents from airborne lead (in the tailings) will then be the responsibility of the contractor doing the remedial work."