The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, after lengthy delays, began dioxin testing at Magnesium Corporation of America last week.
But Citizens Against Chlorine Contamination, which has been pressuring the state to conduct the tests, fears the samples will be collected in the wrong places.Group member Scott Endicott said the sites chosen represent a timid approach to examining a potentially serious environmental health problem.
Dioxins are byproducts of industrial processes involving chlorine. In laboratory experiments, dioxins have caused cancer in animals and weakened their immune systems.
Known for the past decade as one of the nation's top three toxic chemical polluters because of its chlorine emissions, MagCorp was suspected two years ago of also producing dioxins at its plant on the west shore of Great Salt Lake.
Citizens Against Chlorine Contamination wants dioxin samples to be taken from the plant's scrubber stack, where the dioxins are most likely being produced.
Instead, the tests will be conducted at several locations in the facility where it is suspected that the scrubber water is dumped, Endicott said.
State toxicologist Steven Packham said samples of the plant's waste water will be tested at various sites throughout the facility. The cost of the testing, he said, will be shared by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Packham said the cost of air-emissions testing, to be done at a later date, will be paid by MagCorp.
Owned by New York resident Ira Rennert, MagCorp has a state permit to produce 48,000 tons of magnesium from 76,600 acres of Great Salt Lake evaporation ponds.