Newsroom: Press Release Archive: March 2003
  • March 20, 2003: ADEQ Renews Air Permit for Carlota Copper Mine
  • March 18, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Meeting Schedule for New Construction Permit Requirements
  • March 18, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Praises NADBank Funding for Patagonia Sewer System Improvements
  • March 17, 2003: ADEQ to Host "Smoke School" Training in Tucson
  • March 14, 2003: ADEQ to Host "Smoke School" Training in Show Low
  • March 14, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Accepts American Lung Association's Annual Clean Air Award
  • March 10, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Says Risks Reduced at IWU Facility
  • March 7, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Orders Removal of Hazardous Waste from Closed IWU Facility
  • March 6, 2003: U.S. EPA Approves Tempe and ADEQ Requests to Remove South Indian Bend Wash Property from Superfund List
  • March 3, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Announces $79,000 Innovation Grant from U.S. EPA
  • March 3, 2003: ADEQ Issues New Construction Project Stormwater Pollution Control Permit
  • March 3, 2003: Governor Napolitano Appoints ADEQ Director Steve Owens to Children's Cabinet

ADEQ Renews Air Permit for Carlota Copper Mine

PHOENIX (March 20, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has renewed an air quality permit for the Carlota Copper Company's open-pit copper mine and processing facility near Miami.

The renewal, which was issued Feb. 26, is an important step in Carlota's effort to build and operate a heap-leach copper mining and processing facility. The permit governs air emissions from a wide range of operations associated with the removal of copper ore from an open pit mine and its use in a copper process and recovery method known as solvent extraction and electrowinning.

The Carlota facility, located in the Pinto Valley, six miles west of Miami, is near a number of other mining operations in the Globe/Miami area. The facility is categorized as a minor air pollution source since its potential to emit is below the applicable major source thresholds for all regulated pollutants.

The Pinto Valley area complies with all federal air quality standards except PM10 and sulfur dioxide.

Under the permit, the facility would employ a variety of water sprays and other methods throughout the construction process to reduce the amount of dust generated by rock crushers, conveyor belts and truck traffic.

The permit limits the facility's emissions of the following pollutants: oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates as well as sulfuric acid mist from the electrowinning tankhouse, and volatile organic compounds from storage tanks and the solvent extraction process.

The original air permit for the facility was issued in March 1997. That permit expired in March 2002. Since Carlota never built the facility and proposed no changes to the original permit, the renewal continues to allow for the construction and operation of the same equipment that was permitted in 1997.

ADEQ issued the renewal permit after providing the public an opportunity to comment. ADEQ considered and responded to all concerns raised during the public comment period prior to issuing the permit.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Meeting Schedule for New Construction Permit Requirements

PHOENIX (March 18, 2003) --Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced a series of meetings around the state to help construction site operators/owners learn more about permit requirements associated with a new general permit that regulates stormwater discharges from construction sites in Arizona.

The permit applies to all operators/owners of construction sites that are greater than one acre or smaller than one acre if the property is part of a larger common plan of development or sale.

"Our goal is to reduce red tape and make this permit process as user friendly as possible," Owens said. "We have scheduled meetings in various locations and designed them to help construction site operators and owners, especially those in rural Arizona whose resources are limited, comply with the new general permit."

Meetings on the new general permit are scheduled to take place in Tucson, Flagstaff, Phoenix and Yuma at the following locations:

Tucson:
Monday, March 24 at 10 a.m.
State of Arizona Building, Room 158
400 W. Congress

Flagstaff:
Tuesday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m.
Northern Arizona University
The Meadows Room, DuBois Center

Phoenix:
Wednesday, March 26 at 9:30 a.m.
Industrial Commission Hearing Room
800 W. Washington St.

Yuma:
Thursday, March 27 at 11 a.m.
City Hall, Conference Room 190
Once City Plaza (Giss Parkway and 1st Avenue)

The new permit incorporates Phase 2 of the federal stormwater control requirements. Phase 1 of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES was written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 to govern construction projects that disturb five or more acres of land and expired in February 2003. The new permit includes large construction activities that were previously covered under Phase 1 and covers small construction projects.

ADEQ assumed responsibility of the permitting process for Arizona as a result of a recent delegation agreement with the EPA, which transferred authority to regulate surface water discharges from the EPA to ADEQ.

Under the agreement, ADEQ now regulates discharges from all facilities and municipalities according to the federal Clean Water Act.

The result of that agreement is a program that benefits Arizona's environment and the business community by providing local, more responsive oversight of permitted facilities while allowing ADEQ to be flexible to the changing needs of Arizona businesses.

The permit is available here or can be obtained by contacting Chris Varga, ADEQ, Surface Water Permits Unit, 1110 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Praises NADBank Funding for Patagonia Sewer System Improvements

PHOENIX (March 18, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today praised the North American Development Bank's decision to fund a wastewater treatment facility replacement and sewer system improvement project for the town of Patagonia, Arizona.

The $1.3 million grant recently approved by NADBank will be used in a two-phase project to construct a new wastewater treatment plant and rehabilitate sewer collection lines. The first phase consists of constructing a new 110,000 gallon per day wastewater treatment facility and the second phase consists of the replacement and in-site repair of the town's sewer collection lines.

"Improvements to the quality of health and the environment in Patagonia can be attributed to the cooperation between the business community, government and the funding provided for this project," said Owens. "This grant is a great benefit to a community that would otherwise have a difficult time raising the funds necessary for a project of this magnitude."

Through the grant, the town's wastewater system will be replaced with a new facility and better quality effluent and rehabilitation of the sewage collection system. The improvements will reduce the amount of untreated wastewater leaking from deteriorated lines and infiltrating into the ground water.

The total cost of the improved treatment facilities is expected to be $2.3 million. Funding sources for the project also include the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Arizona Water and Infrastructure Finance Authority and the State of Arizona through the Community Development Block Grant program.

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ADEQ to Host "Smoke School" Training in Tucson

PHOENIX (March 14, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will be sponsoring a free "smoke school" March 27 and 28 in Tucson.

Smoke School is a nickname for formal certification in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's method for determining the opacity of smoke and dust emissions. During the testing session, participants evaluate several sets of black and white smoke readings.

The training will be held at the Kino Veterans Memorial Community Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way, beginning at 8 a.m. The March 27 session will consist of both classroom and field testing; the March 28 session will be field testing only.

ADEQ conducts Smoke School training twice a year (spring and fall) at locations around the state. Training sessions are also held in Phoenix, Kingman and Show Low.

For more information, please contact Fred Ellis, at (602) 771-4851, toll free at 800) 234-5677.

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ADEQ to Host "Smoke School" Training in Show Low

PHOENIX (March 14, 2003) --The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will be sponsoring a free "smoke school" March 18 and 19 in Show Low.

Smoke School is a nickname for formal certification in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's method for determining the opacity of smoke and dust emissions. During the testing session, participants evaluate several sets of black and white smoke readings.

The training will be held at the Pioneer Community College White Mountain Campus, 1001 W. Deuce of Clubs beginning at 8:00 a.m. The March 18 session will consist of both classroom and field testing; the March 19 session will be field testing only.

ADEQ conducts Smoke School training twice a year (spring and fall) at locations around the state. Training sessions are also held in Tucson, Phoenix and Kingman.

For more information, please contact Fred Ellis, at (602) 771-4851, toll free at (800) 234-5677.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Accepts American Lung Association's Annual Clean Air Award

PHOENIX (March 14, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens last night accepted the American Lung Association of Arizona's annual Clean Air Award in recognition of the department's efforts to improve statewide air quality in 2002.

In presenting the award, the Lung Association's national chairman Tony Delucia praised the department for implementing the nation's most stringent vehicle emissions inspection program, bringing cleaner burning gasoline to the Valley, its work to assess and improve air quality along the U.S.-Mexico border and its leadership in a wide variety of air quality activities resulting from the Brown Cloud Summit.

"I am very proud of this award and of our partnership with the American Lung Association," Owens said. "ADEQ is committed to improving air quality in Arizona, and we greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Lung Association."

"ADEQ is a clean air partner in the truest sense of the word," Delucia said. "They are responsible for bringing together key stakeholders who are in a position to make a difference when it comes to cleaning our air."

Air quality in Arizona has been steadily improving over the years, but, until the 1990s did not meet federal health standards in many parts of the state, particularly in the major metropolitan areas. The Valley, for the first time, came into compliance with current federal standard for carbon monoxide and the one-hour ozone standard in 1997 and has continued to do so.

As evidence of progress in improving air quality, Owens cited a Lung Association study released in October 2002 that highlights the benefits of ADEQ's vehicle emission inspection program. The study indicated Arizona's vehicle inspection program not only reduces emissions of carbon monoxide and ozone forming chemicals, but also lowers concentrations of the four most dangerous and prevalent toxic air pollutants -- benzene; 1,3 butadiene; formaldehyde and acetylaldehyde.

Owens also noted the department's work in improving air quality elsewhere in Arizona. The department is engaged in work to redesignate seven Arizona cities to attainment with federal air quality standards and is implementing several special air quality studies in sister cities along the U.S.-Mexico border. A study of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora is completed and the study in Douglas, Ariz., and Agua Prieta, Sonora is in the final stages. Another study in the area of Yuma, Somerton and San Luis, Ariz. and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, is just getting underway.

In addition, ADEQ is working with a wide variety of stakeholder groups to address Arizona's longer-term air quality goals such as improving visibility in the state's national parks, recreation and designated wilderness areas. The department is also working closely with regional transportation planning groups and other agencies to address urban air pollution.

"We must continue the progress we have made in addressing the complex air quality issues we face in Arizona," Owens said. "Meeting that challenge will require continued support for all our air quality programs."

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ADEQ Director Owens Says Risks Reduced at IWU Facility

PHOENIX (March 10, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today said that risks associated with improperly stored hazardous waste at the Innovative Waste Utilization facility in Phoenix has been significantly reduced as a result of work conducted over the weekend.

At 11 a.m. today the first shipments, two 5,000-gallon tanker trucks loaded with flammable liquids, left the facility for final disposal in Utah. ADEQ officials plan to continue working until all of the hazardous waste has been removed from the facility.

Owens ordered his staff to take emergency response action late Friday after a number of barrels containing acids, corrosives and other potentially flammable materials were found to be improperly stored during an inspection.

During the inspection, conducted jointly with the Phoenix Fire Dept., ADEQ discovered that containers exposed to the weather had either tipped over in mud caused by recent rains or began to expand as a result of rising temperatures.

Owens determined that the improper storage of these substances posed an unacceptable risk to public safety and the community and directed ADEQ staff to begin stabilizing and removing the materials.

"Our number one goal is to protect the health and safety of the people who live near this facility," Owens said. He stressed that there has been no release of any toxic substances.

The hazardous materials were likely among the last received at the facility before Owens suspended its hazardous waste permit Feb. 26 for violations stemming from an ongoing criminal investigation of the company.

As part of that action, Owens also revoked the facility's hazardous waste permit and issued a compliance order to govern the safe handling and disposal of all the facility's on-site materials within 15 days. As of Friday, the company had not yet begun to comply with the order to begin removing the waste.

Friday, at about 8:20 p.m., inspectors entered the facility and began conducting a detailed site inventory and developing a site safety plan to prioritize their efforts. Throughout the weekend, they worked alongside contractors from Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., to stabilize and segregate hazardous waste and prepare them for shipment.

The work consisted of sampling, testing and removing 1,500 gallons of standing water that had pooled around water-reactive wastes, venting a number of waste barrels that had expanded due to recent high temperatures and separating hazardous wastes to reduce the potential for combustion.

By Saturday afternoon, workers had completed the initial site stabilization and turned to the process of removing the waste. Rather than moving the waste from the IWU facility to another site in Phoenix, the decision was made to repackage it for shipping to a final disposal destination, a move that both lowers costs and avoids double handling the hazardous materials.

ADEQ officials estimate it may cost as much as $500,000 to remove waste from the facility, but say they plan to recover the final amount from the company.

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ADEQ Director Owens Orders Removal of Hazardous Waste from Closed IWU Facility

PHOENIX (March 7, 2003) --Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens late today directed his staff to take emergency response action to remove about 1,000 barrels of hazardous waste from the Innovative Waste Utilization, LLC, facility in Phoenix, after a number of the barrels were found to be improperly stored during an inspection earlier today.

This evening a licensed contractor will begin removing the barrels under the supervision of ADEQ inspectors, who determined that as many as 300 of the barrels were not properly stored and require immediate removal.

"We believe these substances pose an imminent and substantial threat to public safety and the community, and we are therefore initiating an emergency response action to reduce those risks," Owens said. "I need to stress to the community that there has been no release of any toxic substances, and we intend to ensure that none occurs."

Owens suspended IWU's hazardous waste permit, effectively closing the facility, last week after a drug enforcement task force made a number of arrests for alleged criminal activity at the facility.

As part of that action, Owens also revoked the facility's hazardous waste permit and issued a compliance order to govern the safe handling and disposal of all the materials currently stored at the facility. Since that time ADEQ has monitored activity at the facility.

The company failed to comply with the order and has thus far taken no action to remove the hazardous waste.

ADEQ officials estimate it may cost as much as $500,000 to remove waste from the facility, a cost they plan to recover from the company.

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U.S. EPA Approves Tempe and ADEQ Requests to Remove South Indian Bend Wash Property from Superfund List

PHOENIX (March 6, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to remove an area north of Rio Salado Parkway west of Highway 101 in Tempe from the national Superfund List of contaminated sites.

The decision, which was announced by the EPA's Region 9 earlier this week, is the first step in clearing the valuable property near Rio Salado and Tempe Towne Lakes for redevelopment and follows months of discussion between federal, state and City of Tempe officials.

"This project is an excellent example of the benefits of public-private partnerships in revitalizing urban areas with low-risk environmental concerns,"; said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "It's also important for the public to know that ADEQ will continue to monitor the environmental concerns at this site under our Voluntary Remediation Program."

Owens said the proposed removal from the Superfund List is a major step forward for ADEQ and for Tempe officials, who are eager to see the site redeveloped.

"Once the stigma associated with the Superfund designation is removed, the site becomes much more attractive to potential developers and is a potential source of income for the city," Owens said. "This project also highlights one of ADEQ's flagship programs, the Voluntary Remediation Program, which allows development to occur concurrently with environmental remediation efforts."

The property became a Superfund site in 1983 along with a much larger tract of land after industrial solvents used by numerous facilities within the city of Tempe contaminated the groundwater with volatile organic compounds, primarily trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). The site includes several closed landfills.

Based on subsequent EPA studies confirming the 210-acre parcel in question was not a contributor to the TCE and PCE groundwater contamination, city, state and federal officials agreed that the site is below the threshold for federal remediation activities and should be removed from the Superfund List.

"This action is an excellent example of positive interaction among the EPA, the state of Arizona and the local community," said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest office. "The EPA has worked diligently with ADEQ and the city to facilitate the partial deletion of this site and supports the redevelopment efforts of the city of Tempe."

The EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days. Those wishing to submit comments should contact the EPA's Melissa Pennington at (415) 972-3153 or (800) 231-3075 or send comments to her at US EPA Region IX, SFD-8-2, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3901.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces $79,000 Innovation Grant from U.S. EPA

PHOENIX (March 3, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has received a $79,000 federal grant to develop a Web-based application to assist Arizona businesses and municipalities in applying for construction stormwater discharge permits.

The project, known as 'Smart NOI (for notice of intent)," was one of only three innovation grants recently awarded nationwide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA awards the grants to promote innovative technologies or approaches to regulatory or environmental challenges.

"I am proud of ADEQ's initiative in obtaining federal funding to help Arizona businesses and municipalities streamline their permit applications," Owens said. "This project will make it easier for them to apply for needed permits and also provide ADEQ with the information we need to protect and enhance water quality in Arizona."

"ADEQ's Smart NOI project will serve as a model for other states to follow," said Catherine Kuhlman, the director of the U.S. EPA's Water Division in San Francisco. "The new online tool will ease the permit application process, improve program efficiency, and will ultimately translate into cleaner, safer water bodies from Nogales to Flagstaff."

When completed, ADEQ's Smart NOI tool will enable users to file a stormwater NOI online and send that information directly into the proper ADEQ database. The tool will feature a decision-making matrix to enable ADEQ to rapidly identify applicants who can receive immediate approval from those that need special attention.

The Smart NOI tool will integrate geographic information system data with a wide variety of other information to identify projects located near unique waters, which are pristine rivers and lakes; impaired waters, where water quality standards are not being met; and endangered species habitat.

For projects in or near endangered species habitat, ADEQ will immediately notify Arizona Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so that those agencies may discuss project issues and options with the developer.

Owens said the online tool will be extremely valuable as the number of permit applications increase due to a recent regulatory change. The new regulations require operators of any construction projects that disturb an acre or more of land to obtain authorization to discharge stormwater. Construction projects less than one acre but part of a larger common plan of development also are required to file for permit coverage.

Construction site operators will be required to prepare a stormwater pollution prevention plan in accordance with general permit provisions, ensure ADEQ receives an NOI at least two business days prior to starting construction and provide a Notice of Termination when the project is completed.

ADEQ anticipates a significant increase in the number of permit applications as a result of the recent regulatory change.

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ADEQ Issues New Construction Project Stormwater Pollution Control Permit

PHOENIX (March 3, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a new general construction permit that requires operators of any construction project that disturbs an acre or more of land or any parcel less than one acre but part of a larger common development to apply for authorization to discharge stormwater.

As part of the application, construction site operators will be required to prepare a stormwater pollution prevention plan in accordance with general permit provisions, submit a notice of intent form to ADEQ at least two business days prior to starting construction, and provide a Notice of Termination when the project is completed.

Operators will be required to follow the terms and conditions of the permit until the construction activity is completed.

The new permit incorporates Phase 2 of the federal stormwater control requirements. Phase 1 of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES was written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 to govern construction projects that disturb five or more acres of land and expired on February 17. The new permit includes large construction activities that were previously covered under Phase 1 and expands to cover small construction projects as well.

ADEQ assumed responsibility of the permitting process for Arizona as a result of a recent delegation agreement with the EPA, which transferred authority to regulate surface water discharges from the EPA to ADEQ.

Under the agreement, ADEQ now regulates discharges from all facilities and municipalities according to the federal Clean Water Act.

The result of that agreement is a program that benefits Arizona's environment and the business community by providing local, more responsive oversight of permitted facilities while allowing ADEQ to be flexible to the changing needs of Arizona businesses. The agreement is a win-win for Arizona.

Another bright spot in ADEQ's water quality permitting efforts is a recent $79,000 innovation grant the department received from the U.S. EPA to develop a Web-based "smart NOI" (or notice of intent) to file a permit application.

The application will feature a decision-making matrix, based upon a unique geographic identifier, that rapidly identifies applicants that need special attention for potential water quality concerns from those that do not. It will also include the capability to file a stormwater NOI online and send that information directly into the proper ADEQ database.

Additionally, it also integrates geographic information system (or GIS) data with a wide variety of other information to identify projects located near "unique waters," which are pristine rivers and lakes; impaired waters, where water quality standards aren't being met; and endangered species habitat.

For projects in areas of the endangered species critical habitat, ADEQ will notify immediately Arizona Game and Fish and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so that those agencies may discuss project issues and options with the developer. The "Smart NOI" will be accurate and easy to use.

The permit is available here or can be obtained by contacting Chris Varga, ADEQ, Surface Water Permits Unit, 1110 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

ADEQ also plans to announce a series of public workshops to discuss the final construction general permit, and will post the schedule on the department's Web site in the near future.

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Governor Napolitano Appoints ADEQ Director Steve Owens to Children's Cabinet

PHOENIX (March 3, 2003) -- Governor Janet Napolitano has appointed Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens to her Children's Cabinet, a group of experts who advise the governor on a wide range of issues involving Arizona's children.

The 13-member Children's Cabinet, chaired by the governor, serves as a focal point for Arizona's efforts to improve the health, education, and quality of life for children by ensuring that the best interest of children are considered at the highest levels of government.

The cabinet will focus attention and resources on problems facing Arizona's youngest citizens by collaborating and promoting coordinated policies and service delivery systems that support children, families and communities.

As a member of the cabinet, Owens will advise and make recommendations to the governor on the most effective policies and programs that promote the best environmental interests for Arizona children.

"I am honored to be selected to this group," Owens said, noting the importance environmental factors play in the lives of children. "I know the governor is committed to bettering the lives of Arizona's children, and ADEQ will contribute significantly to those efforts."

Other members of the Children's Cabinet include:

  • Cathy Eden, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services
  • John Clayton, director of the Department of Economic Security
  • Phyllis Biedess, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
  • Ruth Solomon, assistant superintendent for policy of the Arizona Department of Education
  • David Gaspar, director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections
  • Charles Ryan, acting director of the Arizona Department of Corrections
  • Robert Brutinel, chair of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Courts
  • Chris Cummiskey, director of the Government Information Technology Agency
  • Lisa Glow, executive director of the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families
  • Karen Abman, director of the Governor's Division for Children
  • Sue Gerard, Human Services policy advisor for the Office of the Governor
  • Noreen Sharp, Human Services policy advisor for Office of the Governor

The cabinet meets periodically at Governor Napolitano's office.

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