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Utah is 10th in toxic emissions

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Utah has the distinction of making another nationwide top 10 list, albeit a dubious one.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report issued Tuesday ranked the Beehive state 10th nationally in toxic chemicals released into the air, land and water. Utah industries poured 76.3 million pounds of chemicals into the environment in 1995, according to the Toxics Release Inventory. The report contains EPA's latest available statistics.Magnesium Corporation of America, a magnesium extraction plant in Tooele County, led the way, spewing 64.3 million pounds into the air. Magcorp has long been the nation's leading emitter of chlorine.

Kennecott Utah Copper, which operates an open-pit mine in Bingham Canyon, was second with nearly 6 million pounds, which marked a 4-million-pound decrease from the last report. The remaining industries among Utah's 10 largest emitters ranged from 978,600 pounds to 160,000 pounds.

Neil Taylor, a state Division of Emergency Response & Remediation environmental scientist, said all the emissions were within the companies' legal limits.

"I don't think there's reason for alarm," he said, adding the Utah Department of Environmental Quality continually evaluates and works with industry to maintain health-based standards.

Utah facilities showed a net increase of toxic chemicals discharges into the environment from 1994 to 1995. The state ranked 12th on EPA's list in 1994. The bulge was largely due to the 8 million more pounds of air emissions at Magcorp, which accounts for 84 percent of the state's reported toxic releases.

Chemical releases for those two years were less than in 1993, when the state reported 92 million pounds. They've also been nearly cut in half since 132 million pounds released in 1989, the first year the Toxic Release Inventory was issued.

The numbers EPA released Wed-nes-day and those in a Utah report issued in March are compiled by the companies themselves. The information from 148 facilities is based on monitored measurements and estimates. It included, for the first time, toxic releases from federal facilities after President Clinton issued an executive order requiring them to report. EPA will add seven more industry groups, totaling 31,000 facilities, in 1998 to those currently compelled to report.

The Air Force's Ogden Air Logistics Center and Utah Test and Training Center in Tooele County both made Utah's first 10.

In addition to changing the types of industries that must report, EPA also added and removed certain chemicals from the toxics release list. Companies in EPA Region 8, which includes Utah, reported emitting 24 of the 286 newly listed chemicals.

The EPA is required to report the Toxics Release Inventory under the 1986 Emergency Planning Community Right-to-Know Act.

Jack McGraw, acting Region 8 director, said the inventory empowers communities with essential information about potential environmental or health problems. It's an important tool to curb pollution and reduce health risks, he said.

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Additional Information

Top emitters

Utah's top 10 facilities for toxic releases:

Company and county Toxic releases (in pounds)

Magnesium Corporation of America (Tooele) 64,339,080

Kennecott Utah Copper (Salt Lake) 5,990,210

Thiokol Corp. (Box Elder) 978,600

Geneva Steel (Utah) 901,778

Hercules (Salt Lake) 633,089

Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co. (Utah) 243,551

American Azide Corp. (Iron) 194,095

U.S. Air Force Ogden Air Logistics (Davis) 183,955

U.S. Air Force, Utah Test and Training Center (Tooele) 170,000

Thiokol Corp., Clearfield (Davis) 160,000