The Utah Petroleum Association wants Gov. Norm Bangerter to support an appropriation for a study it hopes will help the state better understand sources of air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley.
Shelly Cordon, the UPA's associate director, said hiring a consultant for the study would not mean any holdup in the implementation of the Bureau of Air Quality's plan mandating refineries to reduce fine-particulate pollution by 1993."We just want to make sure it will accomplish what the state thinks it will," Cordon said.
Communities along the Wasatch Front experience serious problems from PM10 pollution during winter months when temperature inversions can trap pollution close to the ground. PM10 pollutants, consisting of particles measuring less than 10 microns in diameter, can be a serious health hazard, officials say.
The Bureau of Air Quality's mandate may cost refineries as much as $30 million each, and Cordon said the association wants to "make sure that the money will go toward something that will really clean up the air."
"Five years from now, we don't want to wake up and hear we didn't do it right," said Randall Couch, manager of the Amoco refinery in Woods Cross. Couch was one of four refinery managers who met with the governor Friday.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a Utah model which tried to account for the sources and dispersion of PM10. Cordon said that means the state is making assumptions on where the pollutants are coming from and how they spread.
"Nobody knows if those assumptions are valid and we're just asking that they be verified," she said.
Cordon said an East Coast consultant previously hired by the association estimated it would cost $150,000 to design an accurate model.
But Ken Alkema, director of the state Health Department's Division of Environmental Health, predicted it would cost much more.
Alkema acknowledged more research is needed in the area of fine particulate pollution in the Salt Lake valley. But he said accurate predictions aren't easily accomplished.
Bangerter asked Alkema and the managers to come up with more concrete cost estimates, and expressed some support for a supplemental appropriation to fund the study.
"It sounds rational to me," he said. "Our objective is to have clean air. I think we've got to stay up front and I don't mind leading the way."
Alkema suggested the Legislature might be more amenable to funding the project if the refineries also kicked in some money.
The UPA and refineries, which already face substantial expenditures for pollution control equipment, were not enthusiastic about the suggestion.
"At this point, they are not volunteering any extra money because they think the modeling will show the equipment will be necessary," Cordon said. " If that's what it shows, that's fine. They just want some verification."