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Health, Science & Environment

DEQ Report Looks at Environmental Challenges

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Lin Meiyun / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Chart shows concentrations of ozone from Asia building up in parts of the western United States

  The Utah Department of Environmental Quality issued its annual report on Monday. It talks about some of the success the department’s had this year, but also looks at challenges that lie ahead.

The report says complying with new federal air quality standards for ozone will be extremely difficult.  That’s because they’re getting close to the normal background level for ozone in the air.  DEQ spokesperson Donna Spangler says ozone drifting in from as far away as China complicates the efforts that industry and others are making in places like Utah’s Uintah Basin.

“Instead of just having the Environmental Protection Agency claim that area as a non-attainment," Spangler tells KUER, "we’re actually working with the oil and gas industry, working with those folks in the community.”

Tim Wagner with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says the stricter standards might be hard to meet, but they’re worth the effort.

Wagner tells KUER, “In our minds, all the more reason to take the real pro-active, health-based approach and that is, reduce what’s coming from industry even more than they have to.”

The report also notes the efforts the state is making to reduce harmful algae blooms in Utah waterways like the one that killed a dog at Utah Lake last summer.  And it’s still looking at whether to allow the disposal of depleted uranium at the EnergySolutions landfill in Tooele County.

The report is available on the Department of Environmental Quality website

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