Geneva Rock plans to return to Draper City soon with a revised application for gravel pit expansion

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Geneva Rock's operations at Point of the Mountain, straddling Utah and Salt Lake Counties, Tuesday September 22, 2015.

Geneva Rock, which has withdrawn an application to expand its mining area at the Point of the Mountain by 73 acres, says it will reapply soon with a new application for a rezone of 18.5 acres.

The company decided on the scaled-back expansion “after listening to and considering feedback from the public, cities and other stakeholders,” Geneva spokesman Dave Kallas told The Tribune. "The company intends to submit a revised application to the city in the near future.”

Draper City aborted a public hearing on the project on Sept. 12 about 15 minutes into Geneva’s presentation because of dramatic changes to the application it had originally submitted. None of the more than 100 residents who packed the meeting, most of them opposed to the expansion, got the opportunity to speak.

Even with the scaled-back plan some residents remain deeply skeptical of the company.

“This is the same company whose lobbyist stated on ABC4 News that the Division of Air Quality has stated that there is no silica in the dust from Geneva’s mining efforts, said Draper resident Kelle Land. "We followed up with the Division of Air Quality to ask them for any documentation or if they have stated that formally. We were told by a spokesmen at the DAQ that they do not monitor for silica and they have never made that statement and there are no reports of such monitoring.”

Jeff Hartley, a lobbyist registered for Draper City and also Geneva Rock, told ABC4 in that Sept. 12 interview that “The state Department of Air Quality has looked at the silica issue. They’ve said there’s no silica in the sand and gravel that’s there. So it’s not an air quality issue other than dust.”

Bryce Bird, director of the Division of Air Quality, told The Tribune that, “Under our air quality regulations we regulate the dust that comes from the mining activities.”

Those regulations require that Geneva Rock manage the mining and truck speeds to minimize activities that create dust. “Right now the company is meeting their air quality limits for dust.”

DAQ doesn’t monitor or regulate silica, Bird added.

"There’s no national standard for silica. We have a federal program where the EPA identifies pollutants and then requires monitoring for those where a standard has been developed,” he said.

Silica is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is a component of small particulate pollution, called PM 2.5 for short, a primary air pollutant in the Salt Lake Valley. It can be found in two forms. Crystalline silica is considered to be the dangerous kind, which can have major impacts on both lung and neurological health, while amorphous silica isn’t thought to have much impact on the body.

Geneva Rock has said that the silica contained in its soil is primarily amorphous, and, therefore, not a health concern.

A primer on crystalline silica published by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, states that "All soils contain at least trace amounts of crystalline silica in the form of quartz…. Quartz is also the major component of sand and of dust in the air.”

The primer also says that silica, in both crystalline and amorphous forms, is "present in nearly all mining operations.

Particulate matter affecting air quality is one of multiple concerns brought up by members of the public about Geneva Rock’s initial expansion proposal.