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Davis burn plant is fined $1,098,954

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LAYTON — After years of court wranglings and public protests, the Wasatch Energy Systems burn plant in Layton has been fined by the Utah Division of Air Quality for past air-pollution violations.

The plant was fined $1,098,954 for three notices of violation that occurred in 2001. The incinerator's dioxin emissions had exceeded state limits. Dioxin is a carcinogenic by-product of burning trash.

The burn plant had received two notices of violation prior to 2001, and settlement of those violations led to smokestack scrubbers being installed at the incinerator. This is the first time a fine has been imposed on the burn plant.

The state division has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Wasatch Energy Systems for more than a year to decide the exact number and type of violations the burn plant has incurred, said Rick Sprott, Division of Air Quality director.

The EPA got involved in the fine process last year because it wasn't happy that instead of imposing a fine on Wasatch Energy Systems for the early violations, the division simply made it upgrade equipment, Sprott said. Burn-plant director Nathan Rich said he still has legal grounds to contend the violations but he won't. He said he feels it's more important to keep relations good with the state division and the community than to draw the process out any longer and get wrapped up in litigation.

"This facility is doing everything it can to rebuild trust with the community," he said.

Part of that rebuilding of trust comes in the form of supplemental environmental projects. Those are projects done within the community using part of the fine money to improve the damaged environment.

The Division of Air Quality, community members and leaders from Families Against Incinerator Risk have been meeting with the burn plant to put in place some specific projects.

E-MAIL: rrogers@desnews.com