Bureau of Air Quality and Air Conservation Committee representatives heard mostly supportive comments from residents attending a public hearing on two projects proposed at Geneva Steel.

Nearly 100 residents turned out for a permit hearing on Geneva's basic oxygen process furnaces (Q-BOPs) and sulfur removal facility Thursday evening at the Orem City Center. Both facilities are key components of the mill's environmental modernization program.Although a hearing is not required, bureau and company officials held one to answer questions and air concerns about the two projects.

The coke oven gas sulfur removal system will reduce sulfur oxides produced when coal is converted to coke in the steelmaking process. Sulfur oxide combines with other compounds in the atmosphere to form fine particulate (PM10) pollution.

The removal system will cut sulfur oxides by 7,228 tons or about 89 percent per year, according to the bureau.

The Q-BOP furnaces will reduce emissions of three pollutants but increase the emission level at the plant of one pollutant. The reductions, in tons per year, are: PM10 - 96; nitrogen oxides - 1,154.6; and volatile organic compounds - 137.4.

While flares on the Q-BOPs will burn off approximately 98.5 percent of the carbon monoxide emitted, carbon monoxide emissions at the plant will increase by 3,095 tons per year.

EPA considers flares to be the best available technology for controlling carbon monoxide emissions, according to Geneva's environmental consultant John Cooper, president of Keystone NEA.

A computer program controlling the Q-BOPs will shut down the facility in the event the flare fails.

The bureau used computer modeling to determine how the increase in carbon monoxide emissions would filter through the valley. It concluded the effect would be insignificant.

For example, computer analysis predicted a highest one-hour reading of 0.27 parts per million at higher elevations; the federal standard for the one-hour reading is 35 parts per million.

"We don't show a significant impact when the Q-BOP is up and running," said Montie Keller, manager of the bureau's technical evaluation section.

Cory Teuscher, a professor of biology at Brigham Young University, asked the bureau to place additional air quality monitors at spots in the community that computer modeling predicted would collect the emissions as a check on the anticipated efficiency of the control flares.

The areas pinpointed include: the old Vineyard School site; the foothills area at the Lindon and Orem City border; the powerhouse site in Pleasant Grove and in vicinity of Wymount Terrace and the foothills area in Provo. While these areas recorded the highest readings, the readings were well below federal standards.

Keller said the increase in carbon monoxide emissions would be re-evaluated as Utah County develops a plan over the next year for controlling the pollutant.

The bureau is expected to issue an approval order for operation of both facilities in the next few weeks.

Political leaders at the meeting who urged the bureau to grant the order included Utah County senators Eldon Money and Chuck Peterson, Vineyard Mayor Rulon Gammon, Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert and Raylene Ireland, representing Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins.

"We feel there is as much protection for carbon monoxide as can be had," Ireland said. "What we have here is a substantial act of goodwill. We as a city would like to encourage that and see it move forward."