The Environmental Protection Agency is honoring four groups for outstanding achievement in creating a control plan for fine-particulate pollution in Utah County.
The agency is also honoring Dale E. Marx of the Utah Department of Health for his efforts to stop discharge of human waste from trains traveling throughout the country.Marx and representatives of the four groups will be honored at a ceremony Thursday in Denver. They are among eight individuals and 13 groups from outside the agency being recognized for contributions to environmental protection.
EPA Region 8 in Denver nominated the Utah Bureau of Air Quality, the Utah County Clean Air Coalition, the Utah County Clean Air Commission and Geneva Steel Corp. for their work in developing the first major PM10 control plan in the nation.
"The plan will mean Utah County could meet national standards two years earlier than required under the new Clean Air Act," according to a release from EPA.
Brigham Young University Professor Sam Rushforth, who is a co-chairman of the Utah County Clean Air Coalition, said the award is "marvelous" but cautioned that there is much still to do to clean up the valley's air.
"We're happy that the community has made a start to clean up the air but we view the new PM10 plan as only a start," he said. "We're a little bit concerned because this is not a time for celebration. . . . Everything has to work absolutely perfectly for the plan to bring us into line with federal health standards and that will be hard with growth in the community."
Geneva President Joe Cannon said the mix of groups being recognized for their work on the PM10 plan shows "what you can do when you try not to polarize something. It's better for communities to work together rather than bicker about things."
Cannon also said it is particularly an honor for an industry to be singled out for recognition by the EPA.
For the past three years while manager of the state sanitation program, Marx led efforts nationwide to get Amtrak to stop dumping raw sewage along its routes. His efforts spurred congressional legislation that requires Amtrak to halt the practice and retrofit its cars to handle sewage within six years.
Marx is currently manager of the state's underground storage tank program.
"It is a practice . . . that should have gone out in the 1930s and 1940s," said Gale Smith, director of the bureau of drinking water and sanitation. "He (Marx) coordinated with other states and with (former) Congressman Howard Nielson's office. Finally it's borne fruit."