Millard County is the latest battleground in a shoutin' war over hazardous waste incinerators.
For more than a year, plans to build incinerators in Tooele and Grand counties prompted charges and counter-charges. Now that it's Millard County's turn, the rhetoric has heated up quickly.Rollins Environmental Services of Wilmington, Del., has submitted applications to build a hazardous waste incinerator within the town limits of Lynndyl, Millard County.
Rollins once sought to build its plant near Beryl, 50 miles west of Cedar City, but gave up on the idea after citizens opposed it and the Iron County Planning Commission rescinded zoning approval.
At least three other companies are looking for permission to build hazardous waste incinerators in Utah:
-APTUS, which proposed constructing an incinerator in the Tooele County desert, 68 miles west of Salt Lake City and two miles south of I-80. It would destroy 50,750 tons of waste per year and employ 76 workers.
This facility seems furthest along toward possible approval, with a cooperative county commission and the completion of federal environmental hearings.
-U.S. Pollution Control Inc., which operates a hazardous waste landfill in Tooele County and wants to build an incinerator at the nearby Marblehead Kiln.
-CoWest Incineration Corp., Denver, which wants to build an incinerator near CIsco, Grand County.
APTUS and U.S. Pollution Control have been in discussions with the Utah Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste. Rollins filed a request for a state permit, but officials need to get more design information before they can evaluate the request.
The Tooele County Commission created a hazardous industries zone where it would consider allowing an incinerator.
The CoWest incinerator is the target of a ballot initiative, which will be part of the November election in Grand County. The project is on hold pending the referendum result.
Several Millard County towns around Lynndyl - notably Delta, the largest in the area - are on record as opposing the Lynndyl project.
A citizens' group organized Monday night, with about 75 opponents banding together. They raised money and pledged to continue working to get the Rollins proposal on the ballot. The petition has been circulating for about two weeks.
As the November election is too soon for the group to complete all the legal steps, the group hopes to force a special election. The question would be whether hazardous waste incinerators should be banned from Millard County.
"We've probably got 500 or 600 signatures already on a petition," said Dr. Thomas Chandler, a Delta dentist.
"We are concerned about the safety of our residents," Chandler said.
Delta is about 15 miles southwest of Lynndyl. The county's underground water drains from the north - near Lynndyl - toward the southwest, just as the Sevier River does. Some Delta residents fear their groundwater might become contaminated.
Also, they worry that toxic wastes being hauled to the busy incinerator would spill in case of an accident. Chandler cited the 80 drums of sodium cyanide briquettes that were spilled from a semitrailer truck south of Fillmore in late July.
A section of I-15 was closed while the dangerous chemical was removed.
Hazardous material "will be sent to our county around the clock" if the incinerator is built, he said.
If Lynndyl has a power outage, he said, "there will be a five-minute vent opening to this incinerator, where everything inside will go straight into the atmosphere without being totally combusted. The power goes off down here, I bet you, two or three times a month."
Another Millard County citizen, who asked not to be quoted, said many people in the area favor the plant.
This is partly because the plant would generate a yearly payroll of $5 million to $6 million, and $250,000 in property tax, according to Rollins officials. It would require 250 acre-feet of water, bringing to mind the great profits when the Intermountain Power Project in Lynndyl purchased irrigation water at tremendous prices.
Between 80 and 150 people would be employed, 95 percent of them hired locally.
Rollins backers point out that it is an extremely experienced company, handling 40 percent to 50 percent of the country's hazardous waste. In March, Rollins engineer George Barton told local citizens it is committed to safety and health.
Sarah Inez Moody of Southerland, about 17 miles south of Lynndyl, said all Americans should be concerned about ridding the country of hazardous waste.
"I think Rollins and companies like that are performing a real service," she said.
She said that at first she was concerned about the underground water supply. "But you know, I have faith in American know-how to bring me all of the things that I have in my life at this time right now, like the plastic in my kitchen and polyester in my clothing; I like irons that heat, I like refrigerators that work.
"I suspect that to manufacture these things, there's also waste created."
Moody thinks that if she can trust technology to bring the things she wants, "then I have to have the faith to trust American technology to get rid of the waste in a safe manner."
She added, "I'm kind of a person that lives on faith."