Three groups, including the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, are urging the state to force Kennecott Corp. to reduce the amount of pollution generated by a tall smokestack near the lake.
But company officials offered a different interpretation of the problem Monday, saying tests show cars and wood-burning stoves dump most of the dangerous fine-particulates into the air along the Wasatch Front."In Salt Lake County, especially, it's really a lifestyle issue," said Greg Boyce, director of government and public affairs for Kennecott. He said the amount of pollution in the valley did not decrease during when Kennecott was closed during the 1980s.
But representatives of the Salt Lake County Clean Air Coalition, the Magna Area Community Council and the Yacht Club said recent tests show just the opposite. They said a study done by the state and the federal Environmental Protection Agency from Feb. 23 to March 1 this year showed Kennecott contributed a large percentage of the fine-particulates that pollute the valley.
The Utah Air Conservation Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on ways to clean the air along the Wasatch Front. The decision then will be subject to several public hearings. The state is proposing tougher standards for Kennecott.
Ray Janus, commodore of the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, said he often has seen the effects of the smokestack, located near the lake's south shore. "If what is coming out of the stack can significantly stain the fiberglass on boats on the lake, imagine what it is doing to your lungs," he said.
Janus said the smokestack hurts tourism.
"I am certain that many of them (tourists) silently ask the question how a facility such as the smelter could be erected next to a major tourist stop," he said. "Many of the European and Japanese visitors who we see at the marina cannot fathom that we would tolerate such a major industrial complex next to such a significant resource such as the Great Salt Lake."
Jim Brusatto, chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee of the Magna Area Elected Community Council, said many people moved from his area before Kennecott began stabilizing tailings that used to blow as dust through the community.
"We, as a community, are hopeful Kennecott will address these problems with the same spirit of cooperation and same degree of effort as they did with the tailing-dust issue," he said. "Magna is making a comeback, but we must eliminate this image of being a community which allows itself to be a dumping ground of industrial particulates."