A series of emissions violations at the Davis County burn plant will not result in any fines or penalties under a proposed settlement with the state.
The agreement between Wasatch Energy Systems, which operates the burn plant, and the Utah Attorney General's Office still must be approved by the state's air quality board.As part of the agreement, officials may be required to alter some pollution removal methods and conduct several rounds of testing to help answer public safety questions.
Assistant Attorney General Fred G. Nelson said the facility would have to pay for additional stack and soil testing. However, he called it a compromise on both sides and said the state is "satisfied it's a good, reasonable agreement."
The Davis County waste management district received an emissions violation notice from the Division of Air Quality in June 1997.
Nelson said stack testing showed that the burn plant was slightly over the allowable levels for hydrogen chloride in February and April of that year.
The state also had concerns about a higher level of fluoride emissions, as well as a lack of test data on dioxin levels, because plant officials said testing equipment had malfunctioned in extremely cold weather.
An appeal followed, as an attorney for Wasatch Energy Systems, Larry Jenkins, argued the state was trying to enforce more stringent emissions standards than were in effect when the burn plant opened and was penalizing the plant for equipment failure.
Nelson said the state now agrees that the test results were inaccurate because of the weather. A test in October, though, was slightly over the standard acceptable level for dioxins, he said.
Because of those results and growing public concern regarding dioxins, Wasatch Energy Systems has agreed to study the soil, milk and other dairy products from the area to detect any buildup of dioxins.
Nelson said the district may also consider a new system that could remove more dioxins during the waste-to-energy process, before they are released into the air.
Jenkins said the negotiations produced a settlement both sides are satisfied with.
"Both the state and we understand there are some issues we need to look at further," he said.
Jenkins said the soil testing would be a joint effort between the DAQ's toxicologist Steve Packham and someone the district hires. Jenkins said he expects minimal costs.
The state anticipates protests from environmental advocates at the air quality board's September meeting, when the board will decide whether to officially approve the agreement.
"Because of the issues related to emissions, we wanted to make sure everyone has a chance to review (the agreement) before it's officially signed," Nelson said.