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CLEAN-AIR COMMISSION QUESTIONING GENEVA’S ROLE IN POLLUTION FIGHT

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Until questions are resolved about Geneva Steel's role in cleaning up particulate pollution, members of the Utah County Commission on Clean Air say they must proceed carefully in encouraging the public to do its part in fighting air pollution.

The commission's PM10 subcommittee has completed transportation and wood-burning recommendations for reducing fine-particulate pollution, or PM10. However, development of recommendations for reducing local industrial sources of PM10 - most of which comes from Geneva - has been bogged down by commission confusion and division.At issue is Geneva's role in helping the valley reach a government-mandated PM10 target level and whether data used to determine that level are sufficient. While Geneva officials say they support the state implementation plan (see story on page B1), they want to wait for more testing and data before moving toward PM10 reductions.

"We already have a superb data base," said environmental biologist Sam Rushforth, co-chairman of the Utah County Clean Air Coalition. "I don't think we can work with you guys, so I'm committed to working very hard to finalize what we have done, and I'm perfectly comfortable with letting the EPA deal with Geneva Steel."

John Lear of the Institute of Resource Management, which has worked with the commission since the group was formed in April, said "dueling experts" won't solve air pollution.

"There seems to me to be enough confusion about the science that if the state or EPA come in at one (PM10) level, Geneva will challenge them. If they come in at another level, Sam will challenge them," he said. "I think . . . we all know there is a number (PM10 level) that we have to get to at least, no matter whose science works out ultimately."

Lear said the clean air commission must move forward and ask that Geneva do the same.

"There is no subject that is taking more attention of senior management's time than this subject," said Geneva President Joe Cannon. "It's just a lot more complicated than you would think."

The commission's educational committee, meanwhile, must begin educating the public regarding what it can do to reduce PM10, clean air commission Chairman Kerry Romesburg said. "But we have to be careful because from the beginning we have said we will not . . . call for enforcement on any one portion of this (plan) until we're ready to move with all of it."

He and Rushforth said people need assurance that industry will do its part. "It is a dilemma for us to go out in the education committee and say now is the time for wood-burning cleanup," Rushforth said, because many people have the impression that Geneva "is not doing a darn thing."

County Commissioner Sid Sandberg said there will be no enforcement this winter of proposed guidelines. "What we're going to try to do is help people understand the concern and voluntarily begin to comply."