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IRON COUNTY'S OFFICIALS FINISHING UP ORDINANCE TO BAN HAZARDOUS WASTES

Iron County officials are putting finishing touches on a new ordinance that would ban the importation or creation of hazardous wastes within the county.

Members of the planning and zoning commission and area residents met with county commissioners Thursday to present the final draft of the measure, which already has undergone numerous changes and reviews by planners and state health agencies.Supporters had hoped that a vote would be taken Thursday. But the county commissioners noted the draft had not been posted for a public review, as required under state law, and that a public hearing needed to be held as part of the regular commission meeting May 14.

Ed Fournier, a former planning commission member, said the new ordinance has two purposes.

"The first is to flat out prohibit companies from bringing hazardous waste into the county, and the second is to set up new regulations prohibiting companies from moving in that produce hazardous waste as a byproduct," he said.

Fournier added that state officials who had previewed the measure were complimentary, praising the county for its handling of a volatile issue.

County commissioners agreed the ordinance will be vital to the county's future, but said they had some difficulties with the final draft.

Commissioner R.L. Gardner said it leaves no provision for the disposal of waste already being produced in the county.

It also could prevent several southern Utah counties from pooling their resources in the future to purchase a regionwide incinerator, he said.

Another problem, Gardner said, is a provision stating that waste-producing companies cannot establish operations adjacent to "prime farmland."

"The definition of prime farmland is any land that can be irrigated - and in Iron County, almost all the land is open to irrigation," he said. "That is not a very definitive restriction; there are some things that need to be cleaned up."

Commissioner Jim Robinson said the draft ordinance also appears to list asbestos as a hazardous waste material restricted from disposal within county limits - a provision he said is not acceptable.

"Part of the responsibility of government is to provide rules and regulations that allow us all to operate," he said. "If you're going to restrict us out of business, we may as well go home."

Despite the commissioners' objections, local citizens and the planning commission urged the rapid adoption of the ordinance.

Commissioners said they would take a vote during the May 14 meeting.