Newsroom: Press Release Archive: May 2003
  • May 29, 2003: Experts Gather at State Capitol to Discuss Children's Environmental Health
  • May 28, 2003: ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning
  • May 27, 2003: ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning
  • May 22, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens, Attorney General Goddard Seek Court Order to Stop Improper Chemical Disposal
  • May 21, 2003: ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning
  • May 15, 2003: ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning
  • May 15, 2003: ADEQ to Host Construction Permit Requirements Workshops
  • May 14, 2003: ADEQ to Host Conference on Underground Storage Tank Program
  • May 7, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Plan to Reduce Exposure to Toxics in South Phoenix
  • May 2, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Dedicates New Facility to Treat Groundwater Contamination

Experts Gather at State Capitol to Discuss Children's Environmental Health

PHOENIX (May 29, 2003) -- Children's environmental health will be the topic of discussion at a forum hosted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality tomorrow at the state Capitol. Governor Napolitano will deliver the keynote address at noon.

The forum will bring together children's health experts from Arizona and across the country to help chart a course for the governor's Children's Environmental Health Project, which was announced in April.

Governor Napolitano selected ADEQ Director Steve Owens to lead the Children's Environmental Health Project to bring focus to the environmental challenges affecting the health of Arizona's children.

Speakers at the conference include:

  • Raun Melmed, M.D., director of the The Melmed Center in Phoenix, who will present: Children's Vulnerability to Environmental Toxins
  • Fernando Martinez, M.D., director of the Respiratory Sciences Center at the University of Arizona, who will present: Respiratory Diseases and Asthma in Arizona Children
  • John Peters, M.D., co-director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at the University of Southern California, who will present: Shaping Healthy Environments for Healthy Children
  • Nancy Sutley, deputy secretary for Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs at California EPA, who will present: Building a Children's Environmental Health Program: California's Experience
  • Bill Jones, Children's Environmental Health coordinator at U.S. EPA Region 9, who will present: Foundations for Project Success: Cooperation and Collaboration

Director Owens said he is following a four-step strategy to focus on children's environmental health issues.

"As a first step, highlighted by the forum, ADEQ is seeking input from people, groups and agencies involved with children's environmental health issues to help chart a collaborative course to address the environmental issues affecting children," Owens said.

Owens said the next step, based on outcomes from the forum and other ongoing efforts, will be for ADEQ and its partners to assess and prioritize the environmental factors that affect children in Arizona. The group will then develop strategies to reduce the number and types of contaminants that adversely affect the health of Arizona children.

Owens said ADEQ also plans to step up its education efforts concerning environmental hazards that affect children and the steps parents can take to lessen those exposures.

"We have significantly increased the amount of information we are providing to the public this year about the hazards associated with ground-level ozone pollution," Owens said.

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ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning

PHOENIX (May 28, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued an ozone health warning for Thursday, May 29.

Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reach unhealthful levels tomorrow. Children and adults with respiratory problems should avoid outdoor activities, and everyone, regardless of their of their respiratory condition, should limit time spent outdoors.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their actions plans. All Valley motorists are asked to limit driving as much as possible while the ozone health warning is in effect.

Residents of Maricopa County are requested to take the following steps to reduce ozone-producing emissions:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute, and/or reduce driving.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after dark, during the cooler evening hours.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn or gardening equipment.

The warning is based on already high concentrations of ozone in the Valley and regional weather forecasts which indicate a combination of near record high daytime temperatures, little to no cloud cover and generally light winds on Thursday. These conditions are likely to produce increased concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution in Maricopa County.

Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is caused by the interaction of sunlight with the many pollutants generated by automobiles, gas-powered lawn equipment and other sources.

Residents who want more information about alternative forms of transportation, rideshare programs or who wish to receive electronic notification of Ozone Health Watches or Ozone Health Warnings when issued should call Valley Metro at (602) 262-Ride (7433) or visit ValleyMetro.org .

Valley Metro also has an online rideshare matching system, www.sharetheride.com , to ease the process of finding a carpool, vanpool or bike-riding partner. The Web site allows users to find potential commute partners who travel to and from the same general area and who share similar work schedules.

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ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning

PHOENIX (May 27, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued an ozone health warning for Wednesday, May 28.

Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reach unhealthful levels tomorrow. Children and adults with respiratory problems should avoid outdoor activities, and everyone, regardless of their of their respiratory condition, should limit time spent outdoors.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their actions plans. All Valley motorists are asked to limit driving as much as possible while the ozone health warning is in effect.

Residents of Maricopa County are requested to take the following steps to reduce ozone-producing emissions:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute, and/or reduce driving.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after dark, during the cooler evening hours.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn or gardening equipment.

The warning is based on already high concentrations of ozone in the Valley and regional weather forecasts which indicate a combination of near record high daytime temperatures, little to no cloud cover and generally light winds on Wednesday. These conditions are likely to produce increased concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution in Maricopa County.

Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is caused by the interaction of sunlight with the many pollutants generated by automobiles, gas-powered lawn equipment and other sources.

Residents who want more information about alternative forms of transportation, rideshare programs or who wish to receive electronic notification of Ozone Health Watches or Ozone Health Warnings when issued should call Valley Metro at (602) 262-Ride (7433) or visit www.ValleyMetro.org .

Valley Metro also has an online rideshare matching system, www.sharetheride.com , to ease the process of finding a carpool, vanpool or bike-riding partner. The Web site allows users to find potential commute partners who travel to and from the same general area and who share similar work schedules.

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ADEQ Director Owens, Attorney General Goddard Seek Court Order to Stop Improper Chemical Disposal

PHOENIX (May 22, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens and Attorney General Terry Goddard today filed a lawsuit against Houston Film Labs, LLC, to stop the company from improperly disposing chemicals containing cyanide and silver on the ground behind its film processing lab at 639 E. 39th St. in Yuma, Arizona.

The lawsuit asks the Yuma County Superior Court to issue an order to stop all discharges to the ground until it has been determined if the film processing chemicals are hazardous waste and to require the company to sample the grounds around its film processing lab to determine the extent of contamination. The suit also seeks civil penalties from John S. Houston and Herbert W. Houston, the company's owners and only full-time employees.

The suit comes after months of unsuccessful attempts by ADEQ to get accurate information about the company's disposal practices at the facility.

The Houstons' failure to properly dispose of similar chemicals from their previous film processing company, Houston International, Ltd., located at 665 E. 20th St. in Yuma, led to a very expensive cleanup that remains ongoing. The state has thus far spent $1.7 million to excavate about 1,700 tons of cyanide-contaminated soils, remove about 15,000 gallons of cyanide contaminated wastewater, and resurface the area to prevent public exposure at the site.

"The failure of this company's owners to properly dispose of hazardous materials at their previous facility cost the taxpayers of this state a great deal of money," Owens said. "We intend to make them pay for the costs of cleaning up the facility and stop them from creating another hazard at their new location."

ADEQ referred the matter to the Arizona Attorney General's Office for assistance in obtaining a court order to prevent Houston from disposing of any more chemicals until they are determined to be safe and to require the company to assess the present level of contamination near the facility.

The City of Yuma has also filed a complaint alleging that Houston violated its wastewater discharge permit, by exceeding levels for cyanide and silver (Superior Court of Yuma Case No. S1400-CV200200374).

The color film processing used by Houston, know as VNF-1, generates several cyanide byproducts and silver, which require proper disposal. Normally these chemicals are disposed of in a sewer system, governed by a wastewater discharge permit.

According to the complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office, Houston is alleged to have disposed of these chemicals on the ground, rather than the sewer, based on soil samples taken near the facility.

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ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning

PHOENIX (May 21, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued the second ozone health warning this summer for Thursday, May 22.

Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reach unhealthful levels tomorrow. Children and adults with respiratory problems should avoid outdoor activities, and everyone, regardless of their of their respiratory condition, should limit time spent outdoors.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their actions plans. All Valley motorists are asked to limit driving as much as possible while the ozone health warning is in effect.

Residents of Maricopa County are requested to take the following steps to reduce ozone-producing emissions:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute, and/or reduce driving.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after dark, during the cooler evening hours.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn or gardening equipment.

The warning is based on already high concentrations of ozone in the Valley and regional weather forecasts which indicate a combination of near record high daytime temperatures, little to no cloud cover and generally light winds on Thursday. These conditions are likely to produce increased concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution in Maricopa County.

Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is caused by the interaction of sunlight with the many pollutants generated by automobiles, gas-powered lawn equipment and other sources.

Residents who want more information about alternative forms of transportation, rideshare programs or who wish to receive electronic notification of Ozone Health Watches or Ozone Health Warnings when issued should call Valley Metro at (602) 262-Ride (7433) or visit www.ValleyMetro.org .

Valley Metro also has an online rideshare matching system, www.sharetheride.com , to ease the process of finding a carpool, vanpool or bike-riding partner. The Web site allows users to find potential commute partners who travel to and from the same general area and who share similar work schedules.

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ADEQ Issues an Ozone Health Warning

PHOENIX (May 15, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued an ozone health warning for Friday, May 16, which will remain in effect until 6 p.m.

Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reach unhealthful levels tomorrow. Children and adults with respiratory problems should avoid outdoor activities, and everyone, regardless of their of their respiratory condition, should limit time spent outdoors.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their actions plans. All Valley motorists are asked to limit driving as much as possible while the ozone health warning is in effect.

Residents of Maricopa County are requested to take the following steps to reduce ozone-producing emissions:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute, and/or reduce driving.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after dark, during the cooler evening hours.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn or gardening equipment.

The warning is based on regional weather forecasts which indicate a combination of high daytime temperatures and an absence of cloud cover, along with low-level winds from the west and northwest on Friday. These conditions are likely to increase concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution in Maricopa County.

Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is caused by the interaction of sunlight with the many pollutants generated by automobiles, gas-powered lawn equipment and other sources.

Residents who want more information about alternative forms of transportation, rideshare programs or who wish to receive electronic notification of Ozone Health Watches or Ozone Health Warnings when issued should call Valley Metro at (602) 262-Ride (7433) or visit www.ValleyMetro.org .

Valley Metro also has an online rideshare matching system, www.sharetheride.com , to ease the process of finding a carpool, vanpool or bike-riding partner. The Web site allows users to find potential commute partners who travel to and from the same general area and who share similar work schedules.

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ADEQ to Host Construction Permit Requirements Workshops

PHOENIX (May 15, 2003) -- As part of its continuing effort to help construction site operators/owners throughout Arizona learn more about requirements associated with a new general permit that regulates stormwater discharges from construction sites, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will host public workshops in Show Low May 27, and Sierra Vista May 29.

The new permit is required for construction sites larger than one acre or smaller than one acre if the property is part of a larger common plan of development or sale.

The free workshops are scheduled as follows:

Show Low:
Tuesday, May 27 at 2 p.m.
Show Low City Hall
200 W. Cooley
Show Low, AZ

Sierra Vista:
Thursday, May 29 at 1:30 p.m.
Sierra Vista Police Dept., Training Room 200
911 N. Coronado Dr.
Sierra Vista, AZ

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 to Host Conference on Underground Storage Tank Program

PHOENIX (May 14, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will host a one-day conference on its Underground Storage Tank Program on June 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, 10409 S. Central Ave. in Phoenix.

The conference is designed to educate and inform environmental consultants, contractors and related stakeholders about UST release prevention, investigation and cleanup. The conference will also cover topics related to the UST State Assurance Fund, groundwater contamination and other UST issues.

Registration is available online until May 27. After May 27 you can register by phone at (602) 771-4253 or 771-4262 or toll free at (800) 234-5677. ou may also fax your registration at (602) 771-4346. Seating is limited and early registration is encouraged. On-site registration will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on June 4. There is no cost to attend the conference.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Plan to Reduce Exposure to Toxics in South Phoenix

PHOENIX (May 07, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced the start of a pilot project to reduce public exposure to toxic substances in South Phoenix.

The project, a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 9, will bring together community representatives, environmental experts and other officials to identify the most problematic toxic pollutants in South Phoenix and then develop a plan to reduce public exposure to those pollutants.

"Governor Napolitano and I are very concerned about protecting the residents of South Phoenix from environmental health risks," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "This pilot project will help us identify the most problematic toxic pollutants and then serve as a guide to lower public exposure to those harmful substances."

The project funded by a $270,000 EPA grant will identify sources of toxic pollutants, analyze those source contributions and their potential adverse health and environmental effects, and develop a prioritized action plan to lower public exposure to these toxic substances. The project also requires an extensive communication and public outreach effort.

"This project is another opportunity to partner with ADEQ, the county, the city of Phoenix and the community to help reduce toxic exposures from air, waste and water. We all have a shared commitment to solving a difficult environmental problem," said Jack Broadbent, the EPA's Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest office. "We envision that this effort will serve as a model for other communities within Phoenix and throughout the state."

Owens said community participation and trust will be critical to the success of this effort.

"This project will be conducted in full partnership with the community," Owens said. "Community members will help us define the area of concern and develop strategies to address the toxic substances we target for reduction," Owens said.

The project builds upon recent ADEQ efforts in South Phoenix such as the cleanup of a 10-acre site near Buckeye Road and 5th Street contaminated with heavy metals from a former auto shredding facility and the department's increased monitoring and inspection of hazardous waste facilities in South Phoenix.

The project also seeks to leverage the department's shared interests and existing partnerships with EPA Region 9, Maricopa County, the city of Phoenix, elected officials, civic leaders, private sector and non-profits, community groups and local residents.

ADEQ is soliciting volunteers to serve on a community action council to oversee the project and to keep residents informed once the project is established. Those interested in serving as a member of the community action council should contact Ward Jacox at (602) 771-;4424 or Maria Quintero at (602) 771-2266.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Dedicates New Facility to Treat Groundwater Contamination

TUCSON (May 02, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens and Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup today dedicated a facility that will filter about 2 million gallons of groundwater each day, removing contamination released from the Broadway North Landfill.

The $3 million Broadway-Pantano Western Groundwater Containment System was installed as part of an early response action by ADEQ and the City of Tucson to remove tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) from groundwater in the area west of the Pantano Wash and north of Broadway Boulevard.

"Groundwater is a precious resource in Arizona," Owens said. "Through our efforts in cleaning up this site and many others in our state, ADEQ is protecting this valuable resource for future generations."

The treatment system was paid for by the state's Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund, which funds cleanups of sites with potential to impact public health or groundwater in Arizona. Approximately 2 million gallons of water per day will be treated through granulated activated carbon filters and the clean water will be re-injected back into the underground aquifer.

"This is a state-of-the art pump and treat system which should go a long way toward capturing groundwater contamination before it reaches any of Tucson's important drinking water production wells," Walkup said. "I need to stress that no one is known to be drinking contaminated water because all production wells affected by the contamination have been taken out of service."

Walkup expressed his thanks to St. Joseph's Hospital which was instrumental to the success of the project when the hospital agreed to lease property to the city to house the equipment.

The project, which is managed by the City of Tucson, includes three sites:

- The main Wilmot treatment facility with a 16-inch diameter extraction well capable of pumping water at 900 gallons per minute and four 20,000-pound carbon absorbers;

- A secondary pumping facility, at 908 North Alamo Avenue, that uses an old Tucson Water well capable of pumping water at 400 gallons per minute;

-A re-injection system, at 6100 East 5th Street, that uses two 12-inch diameter wells to pump filtered water back into the underground aquifer.

All three sites are electronically interconnected and computer controlled. The system is designed to automatically shut down if leaks or other problems are detected.

Owens said the entire project was designed and constructed with involvement from the community, and he praised members of the Broadway-Pantano Community Advisory Board for their participation.

"The system we are dedicating today represents the commitment and cooperation of many people, including the members of the Community Advisory Board, who represented the community's concerns," Owens said. "The result is one in which the community, the City of Tucson, Pima County and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality can take some pride."

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