Utah may be losing as much as $1 million yearly because it charges companies less than half what other states do to dispose of hazardous wastes.
The state's legislative auditor general released a report Tuesday that said the $9-per-ton fee lawmakers set for burying out-of-state waste in the West Desert should be increased.Audit Supervisor Tim Osterstock said California charges companies $18 per ton just for the privilege of transporting waste along highways. Those companies then ship the waste to Utah where they avoid the $72-per-ton fee California charges to bury it.
The report also questioned the Environmental Health Division's dependence on fees, noting the division also works to reduce the amount of hazardous waste companies generate. If the division were successful, it would no longer have the money it needs to inspect and control companies that produce waste.
"As much as 55 percent of Utah's hazardous waste control program is dependent on the fees collected from Utah's one disposal site," the report said.
In a written response to the audit, division Director Ken Alkema agreed new funding sources should be found. He said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already accused Utah of failing to force companies to comply with the law for fear of losing money.
The report also said Utah's hazardous waste landfill is likely to lose business in coming years because of the growing popularity of incinerators. Some companies are burning their own wastes.
If current trends continue and if the state still uses disposal fees to fund its hazardous waste program, the Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste will have to decrease its staff by 40 percent by 1995, the report said.
Auditors recommended the Legislature charge companies for the waste they generate, rather than only what is buried.