Despite a notice of violation issued to Geneva Steel for emissions at its desulfurization plant, company officials contend they are still in accordance with health standards.

"This is an alleged violation to a visibility standard," said Jack Bollow, Geneva Steel spokesman. "We are not violating any health standard and that's an important point."But Jeff Dean, manager of the compliance section of the Bureau of Air Quality, said, "You've got to call a rose a rose. When you see opacity, you are seeing particulate."

Geneva Steel received a violation notice Wednesday from the Bureau of Air Quality for an opacity violation that occurred March 1 when desulfurization plant equipment failed. A 46 percent opacity reading was recorded that day. Ten percent is the allowable level at that facility.

The violation prompted an environmental coalition to call for "strict penalties" to be imposed on Geneva.

Grant Boswell, Provo, a representative of the Utah Clean Air Coalition, and two other members of the group said in a press release that the 36 percent-above-standard 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.

Dean said, "Opacity may not directly relate with the health standard, but when we see opacity, we see emissions and we are certainly looking at controlling that. We don't want to breathe those type of particles."

The Bureau of Air Quality gave the company 15 days to respond to the violation, but Bollow said Geneva has already answered the problem.

As part of the steel-making process, Geneva skims a ladle of molten iron every 45 minutes after desulfurization. "If we skim too deep, we get a red poof that lasts approximately one minute," Bollow said.

The Mar. 1 violation came after such an incident. On Mar. 6, Geneva officials informed the state Bureau of Air Quality that they would replace the skimming mechanism at the desulfurization plan.

Bollow said Geneva is taking bids for new skimming equipment, which is expected to cost from $50,000 to $100,000.

But the bureau is not "convinced that it was an equipment problem instead of an operator problem," Dean said. "Our inspectors were originally told it was an operator problem."