An environmental coalition wants "strict penalties" imposed on Geneva Steel for alleged air pollution violations.

The get-tough request by the Utah Clean Air Coalition follows a finding by the Utah Air Conservation Committee's executive secretary that the Geneva plant violated opacity standards on March 1.According to a notice of violation signed by committee executive secretary F. Burnell Cordner, state inspectors found visible emissions from the plant's desulfurization plant were releasing smoke that was 46 percent opaque. This is more than four times as opaque as allowed under a state permit, 10 percent.

Cordner told Boyd C. Erickson, director of engineering and environment at Geneva Steel, that the plant must submit a compliance schedule to bring the operation up to par.

"In addition, excessive emissions from the sinter plant combined plume were evaluated to 48 percent and 52 percent," he wrote. However, state staffers believed the sinter plant was under start-up conditions, and therefore exempt from the opacity requirement at the time.

Grant Boswell, Provo, a representative of the Clean Air Coalition, and two other members of the group said in a press release that the 36 percent opacity is an extremely high reading.

"The opacity violation is especially interesting since it comes less than a month after Geneva Steel officials announced categorically that Geneva Steel was not out of compliance with any opacity regulations anywhere at the plant," the release says.

It adds that monitoring should continue during the night with special new technology.

"We call for strict penalties for this violation and for a study to be conducted by independent parties concerning Geneva's pollution control technology and continued failures to decrease emissions," they added.

Contacted by the Deseret News, Erickson said Bruce Olsen was the person who would questions about this matter. But another Geneva official said Erickson would not be in until hours after the paper's deadline.