The Utah Air Conservation Committee has set a June 16 hearing date for Geneva Steel to appeal a notice of violation issued in February by state air-quality regulators.

The hearing was postponed earlier at the state's request because the original March 10 date did not allow regulators and Geneva officials adequate time to take depositions in preparation for the formal hearing.The Utah Bureau of Air Quality, the committee's enforcement arm, issued the notice Feb. 5 because Geneva Steel allegedly has been cooling slag in violation of a 1982 consent agreement governing air quality control practices at the steel mill.

The violation alleges Geneva Steel has been pouring coke liquor a liquid waste product of the plant's coke-making process over hot slag, a blast furnace waste product, at a temperature higher than allowed by the 1982 agreement between the steel mill, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state.

Geneva Steel officials claim the practice is allowed under a 1985 change in slag-cooling procedures requested by former Geneva Steel owner USX Corp. and approved by the state and the EPA.

Basic Manufacturing and Technologies of Utah Inc., which now does business under the name of Geneva Steel, purchased the mill from USX last year. Geneva Steel officials say the sale transferred all environmental agreements, including those relating to the disputed slag-cooling practice, to the new owner.

Under the pre-1985 slag-cooling procedure, USX hauled the slag in rail cars to large pits, where the hot waste product was allowed to cool for several days to a temperature of 500 degrees before being sprayed with coke liquor.

Because the slag formed large clumps during cooling that had to be broken up by heavy equipment before the the liquid was sprayed, USX requested it be allowed to change procedures, eliminating the need for heavy equipment and thus reducing its costs.

Under the change approved in 1985, USX hauled slag in trucks to smaller cooling pits and sprayed the hot material with coke liquor immediately upon dumping. USX was never cited for employing that practice.

When it took over the mill, Geneva Steel continued the practice. The Bureau of Air Quality issued the violation notice because it said Geneva Steel is spraying coke liquor on the slag before it has cooled to 500 degrees or less as called for in the consent agreement.

By spraying at the higher temperature, there is a greater chance that chemical solids suspended in the coke liquor may be sent into the atmosphere on dust particles carried up by rising steam, bureau officials say.