With hopes of finding the answer to the county's air-quality problem, Geneva Steel delivered the first in a series of fine particulate, or PM10, data to the state Bureau of Air Quality on Wednesday.
The data - compiled by national PM10 expert John Cooper, president of Nuclear Environmental Analysis Inc. of Beaverton, Ore. - will assist the bureau in developing the State Implementation Plan.Cooper was hired last year by Geneva to identify the major contributors of fine particulates in Utah County and at the steel plant. The studies are not complete, but preliminary data will allow him to compare notes with the state and work out differences.
"The data will lead to much more detail in terms of how to control the problem," Cooper said. "It will tell them where to put pollution control and which facilities are responsible. It should provide more accurate and concise information."
Steve Christiansen, an attorney for Geneva Steel, said, "The preliminary information contained in the report suggests that the PM10 emissions inventory developed by the bureau may overstate the sulfur and nitrogen emissions from the plant."
"Geneva is not interested in arguing with people. We retained Dr. Cooper because we are interested in developing the best data to resolve the problem," Christiansen said. "We are not interested in developing a PM10 control strategy that won't work."
The state had wished to hire Cooper but didn't have the resources to do so, he said.
Once developed, the State Implementation Plan will describe how Utah County can meet and maintain the newly implemented PM10 standard. The plan must be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by June 30.
The PM10 standard, first established in 1987 by the EPA, refers to airborne particulates that are 10 microns or smaller in size, small enough to be inhaled into the lungs.
The standard is violated when more than 150 particles smaller than a micron, a millionth of a meter, are counted in a cubic meter of air during one day. The yearly standard is violated when more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter are emitted per day.
Determining the amount of particulate emissions in the valley is done through fingerprinting, a nationally known method developed by Cooper's firm.
In fingerprinting, the sources of particulates are identified and the percentage of particulate pollution contributed by each source is indicated. This method permits the control of emissions on a source-by-source basis.
Data submitted Wednesday looks at a fingerprinting of particulates during 1988-1989.
"The more recent sampling is a good indication of how the plant is working right now," Cooper said. "It is a little more representative of the plant's current operations."
He said next they will look at data for 1987-1988, the same period the state studied and concluded that Geneva emitted 66 percent of particulates in Utah County's air.
"Earlier studies have been based on very few measurements from the Geneva Steel plant and as a result have required a large number of assumptions," Cooper said.
Previous emission estimates were taken from plant production figures and EPA emission factors based on measurements at other plants, he said.
Cooper's first collection of data are still unclear as to the source of particulates, but additional testing will help them understand where the contributor is located, he said. It may be the open hearth, sinter plant, blast furnace, coke plant or rolling mill.
No information yet
Neither Geneva's attorney nor consultant would give details on the initial findings and both said further studies and analysis are needed before any final statements are made.