An excessive-pollution complaint against the Davis County garbage incinerator has been settled with no fines or additional pollution-control methods being required.
On Wednesday, the Utah Air Quality Board voted to resolve the citation by requiring the incinerator's operators to test milk and soil samples near the plant for the presence of dioxins.Mark Graham, a clean-air activist who lives near the incinerator, said the settlement is a "slap on the wrist" to Wasatch Energy Systems, which operates the publicly owned burn plant.
"This doesn't settle anything," said Graham, who organized a citizens group to fight for tougher standards for the 13-year-old burn plant in Layton.
The plant incinerates municipal waste from most Davis County and Morgan County communities. Energy from the burning waste is used to produce steam, which is then sold to Hill Air Force Base for heating and power generation.
In June 1997, the plant was issued a notice of violation for violating its air-quality permit by emitting excessive quantities of hydrochloric acid and dioxins.
WES argued the violations were slight and subject to imprecise testing methods and it cited a study showing no risk to public health or the environment.
Graham told the board Wednesday that the settlement should be thrown out and the board should fine WES and require it to employ additional pollution-control methods.
Fred Nelson, attorney for the state, said Graham's call for additional pollution-control methods is premature because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is due to issue tough new emission requirements for small municipal incinerators.
WES must take soil and dairy samples from the vicinity of the burn plant. If dioxins or heavy metals are found, further studies will be required.
The board voted 7-1 in favor of the settlement, with John Veranth, an environmentalist member, dissenting. Veranth said he would like to see a full hearing on the matter. Daniel McConkie, a Davis County commissioner who sits on the WES board, abstained.