Utah Valley residents unhappy with Geneva Steel's efforts to control pollution can at least take comfort in knowing the plant is locally owned.

If Geneva's owners lived in places like Tokyo, Seoul or New York, it's likely much less attention would be paid to controlling pollution problems.Since reopening in 1987, companies in those three cities have expressed interest in buying the plant, Geneva President Joe Cannon told the Utah County Council of Governments.

But plant owners are committed to more than just making a quick buck and then selling the plant, he said.

Investments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars are planned for the plant over the next couple of decades. Projected improvements, which Cannon said are evidence of the company's commitment to Geneva's longevity, will increase plant sufficiency and competitiveness while reducing pollution.

Cannon said he has "no doubt" about the plant's ability to finance major improvements and meet air-quality standards. The plant's order book is full for the next eight months, he said.

"These are fat years, but there will be lean years," he predicted.

Because Geneva has been so successful since reopening, "Every major investment bank in the country . . . has wanted to become our investment bank," Cannon said.

He said Geneva officials have been mulling over the pros and cons of going public with the privately held company. Such a move eventually could precipitate a takeover, which could see control of Geneva go out of state.

In controlling plant pollution, Cannon pledged to do more than what the state requires. But, he added, "A steel mill will likely always look ugly."