State Shuts Some Pollution Monitoring Stations

State Shuts Some Pollution Monitoring Stations

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state Division of Air Quality is shutting down some air-pollution monitoring stations due to the Legislature's budget cuts.

The agency said the actions will save about $82,684. The Department of Environmental Quality's budget was cut by $250,000.

Nine of the 30 air-monitoring stations statewide will be mothballed. They include two stations in the Ogden area, at Washington Terrance and Washington Boulevard, where pollution levels have occasionally been high.

Other stations that will be shut down are in Moab, the only monitor in southeastern Utah, and a station in Grantsville that is intended to track any airborne hydrochloric acid that might drift toward populated areas from the US Magnesium plant in Rowley.

In addition, carbon monoxide monitoring will be eliminated at two sites. That move is not expected to have much impact because carbon monoxide pollution has fallen dramatically over the past three decades.

Air-quality officials also cut spending for sampling and chemical identification for special cases, such as the air near the Salt Lake International Airport that had area workers complaining of illness last winter.

Lawmakers allowed DEQ to decide where to cut, and, after considering trimming radiation monitoring, DEQ officials opted to trim air-pollution tracking.

"This was a very, very difficult process," said Rick Sprott, director of the Division of Air Quality. "Like all these cuts -- in human services and the like -- there's a price."

Less air-pollution data will mean less information for the planners and regulators responsible for making sure Utah complies with clean-air laws.

The Wasatch Front geography, plus its climate and growing population, makes ozone a problem in the summer months and fine particles worrisome in the winter.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not indicated any opposition to the state's cuts.

Kathy Van Dame of the Wasatch Clean Air Coalition said air-quality officials have done their best to minimize the impacts of the budget cuts, but she is concerned.

"These changes will reduce the quantity and quality of information about the air we breathe available to the DEQ and citizens," she said. "Growing knowledge and concern about health impacts of bad air make this a time when citizens would like more monitoring, not less."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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