Citizen Action, an environmental advocacy group, issued its yearly report on pollution in America Wednesday, and once again Tooele County's Magnesium Corp. of America is listed as the biggest single source of toxic chemicals spewing into the atmosphere.
The report contains figures dating from 1990, with chlorine gas from Magcorp leading the list. Last year, Magcorp Vice President Lee Brown said that a chlorine burner was installed on the plant during the second half of 1990 and was expected to cut emissions by 40 percent to 50 percent in 1991.In the 1990 figures, the Magcorp plant on the western shore of the Great Salt Lake at Rowley, Tooele County, was listed as the country's leading facility for air pollution. The region is not close to any residences.
Edwin S. Rothchild, public affairs director of Citizen Action, told the Deseret News Wednesday that air emissions from Magcorp were listed as more than 119 million pounds of chlorine gas. He cited a report by the New Jersey Department of Health that chlorine gas can irritate the eyes, nose and throat; higher levels can kill; repeated exposure or a single high exposure can damage the lungs.
Citizen Action compiled the figures from the Environmental Protection Agency's 1990 Toxic Release Inventory.
The study, "Poisons in Our Neighborhoods: Toxic Pollution in the United States," listed 10 counties with the greatest total volume of toxic pollution. The study said two of these were in Utah - Salt Lake and Tooele counties.
Salt Lake County was listed because of 15 million pounds from Kennecott in Bingham Canyon. In the past, tailings from the company's famous open-pit mine were counted as part of the inventory.
"The dumping of hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemicals known to cause or suspected of causing cancer and/or birth defects into our air and water is the height of social irresponsibility," Rothchild said.
"Those manufacturers that seek to absolve themselves of responsibility for threatening the health and safety of citizens and communities must eliminate these dangerous chemicals from our air, water and soil."
The report said manufacturers dumped more than 2.7 billion pounds into the environments of 10 states, including Utah. This was part of 4.8 billion pounds of toxics tallied throughout the country.
The 10 states listed with highest total releases were Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Utah, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California.
Counties with the most pollution were Jefferson and St. James in Louisiana; Harris in Texas; and Salt Lake and Tooele.