The Salt Lake County Commission Monday said it will urge the Bureau of Land Management to deny a land swap that would facilitate construction of the proposed Thousand Springs Power Plant in Nevada.
The recommendation follows advice from Salt Lake City/County Health Director Dr. Harry Gibbons, who said the plant, planned for construction in Nevada approximately 100 miles from Salt Lake City, would dump more than 50,000 tons of air pollutants each year and could have a negative impact on Salt Lake's air quality.Commission Chairman Michael Stewart said the coal-fired plant would likely buy its fuel from Wyoming, not Utah, and that the additional pollution source would hinder strategies now being studied to reduce Salt Lake County's small particulate levels, which were above Environmental Protection Agency standards during six days of 1989.
Stewart said Utah would be better off if existing plants in Utah - the Intermountain Power Project near Delta or the Bonanza Plant near Vernal - were expanded to provide additional power the Thousand Springs plant would provide.
If the Thousand Springs proposal advances, Stewart said he would request federal officials follow the Salt Lake County Health Department's recommendations that additional air quality monitoring stations be developed; and that EPA, Nevada and Thousand Springs officials guarantee the plant will not degrade Salt Lake County's air quality. "It would (be) extremely unfortunate if the plant were to be built and then have to be shut down because of air pollution, but that must be understood," Stewart said.
Thousand Springs' proponents have indicated they would shut the plant down if the emissions control system failed, Stewart said, but they need to make more specific commitments about the level of failure that would trigger a shutdown, and the time frame that would be involved. "The decision to curtail the generating capacity of a multi-billion dollar generating plant will not be made quickly," Stewart said. "Who is to make that decision and how much time they will have needs to be specified."