Newsroom: Press Release Archive: October 2003
  • Oct. 31, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Fines Severn Trent Environmental Services $10,000 for Sewage Spill
  • Oct. 30, 2003: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Southern Arizona
  • Oct. 30, 2003: ADEQ Extends High Pollution Advisory for Maricopa County
  • Oct. 29, 2003: ADEQ Issues Statewide Smoke Advisory
  • Oct. 29, 2003: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Phoenix Metropolitan Area
  • Oct. 24, 2003: ADEQ Proposes Plan to Improve Visibility in Arizona's Scenic Areas
  • Oct. 24, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Issues Order to Close Flagstaff Crematorium
  • Oct. 21, 2003: Governor Napolitano to Co-Chair Western Regional Air Partnership
  • Oct. 15, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Pilot Project to Reduce Children's Exposure to Pesticides in Arizona Schools
  • Oct. 15, 2003: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Fines Gold Canyon Sewer Company $17,000 for Wastewater Discharges
  • Oct. 09, 2003: ADEQ Hosts "Smoke School" in Kingman

ADEQ Director Steve Owens Fines Severn Trent Environmental Services $10,000 for Sewage Spill

PHOENIX (Oct. 31, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today fined Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc. $10,000 for failing to prevent the discharge of 500,000 gallons of raw sewage from the Town of Gilbert's water reclamation facility in June 2001. Gilbert contracts with Severn Trent to operate the facility.

The company also will spend $20,000 to place warning markers on all present and future storm drains throughout the Town of Gilbert to prevent unauthorized dumping, as part of a supplemental environmental project.

"This discharge could and should have been prevented by closer monitoring of the treatment system," Owens said. "The corrective actions required by ADEQ will minimize the chances of another discharge from this facility."

The discharge was caused by equipment and procedural deficiencies that failed to detect and respond to a significant backup in the sewage collection system. As a result, the system backed up and began pumping raw sewage from a sewer cover onto North Cooper Street.

Sand bags were used to divert most of the discharge into four nearby surface impoundments from which about 450,000 gallons were pumped back into the collection system. The area affected by the discharge was cleaned up and disinfected following the incident.

As part of corrective actions required by ADEQ, the company has upgraded its computer alarm system at the facility and developed new procedures that require operators to perform a complete system status check prior to each shift change.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Southern Arizona

PHOENIX (Oct. 30, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a high pollution advisory for all of southern Arizona effective immediately through 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The advisory is based on forecasted high winds and blowing dust, which combined with lingering smoke from Southern California wildfires, is expected to cause particulate pollution concentrations to approach unhealthy levels as far north as Maricopa County.

ADEQ advises children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to limit their outdoor activities on Thursday or until conditions improve.

Daily air quality forecasts are on ADEQ's web site at http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/ozone/ensemble.pdf or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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ADEQ Extends High Pollution Advisory for Maricopa County

PHOENIX (Oct. 30, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has extended its high pollution advisory for Maricopa County through 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The advisory is based on forecasted high winds and blowing dust, which combined with lingering smoke from Southern California wildfires, is expected to cause particulate pollution concentrations to approach unhealthy levels in and around Maricopa County.

ADEQ advises children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to limit their outdoor activities on Thursday or until conditions improve.

Daily air quality forecasts are on ADEQ's web site at http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/ozone/ensemble.pdf or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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ADEQ Issues Statewide Smoke Advisory

PHOENIX (Oct. 29, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in coordination with the Arizona Department of Health Services has issued a statewide smoke advisory, recommending that those who are sensitive to smoke limit their outdoor activities for the next several days, as smoke from wildfires in Southern California passes through Arizona.

Smoke began moving into western Arizona early this morning when a low pressure trough began shifting upper level winds over Southern California from the southwest to the northeast. Winds had previously been carrying smoke from the fires in a westerly direction.

Impacts of the smoke will vary throughout Arizona based on local wind conditions, which may or may not create the mixing required to bring smoke concentrations to levels that affect residents.

Earlier today communities in western Arizona along the Colorado River began reporting increased smoke concentrations at ground level.

Forecasters expect the smoke to remain above 7,500 feet throughout today in the Phoenix metropolitan area. That is likely to change tomorrow and Friday as winds are expected to increase in the Valley, bringing smoke concentrations closer to ground level.

As a precautionary measure, ADEQ and ADHS are advising people who are sensitive to smoke - children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses - to take appropriate measures to limit their outdoor activities for the next several days.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updated information to the public as soon as it becomes available," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens.

As a result of the increased smoke throughout the state, ADEQ canceled a prescribed burn in Kendrich, northeast of Flagstaff.

ADEQ also will deploy continuous particulate monitors to the communities of Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Yuma and Ehrenberg by this evening to increase the department's ability to monitor air quality in those locations.

Notes:

  1. The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association's Public Outreach Committee has posted a significant amount of smoke and fire information on its Web site at http://www.capcoa.org/ .
  2. The latest imagery of smoke from the fire is available at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/ .

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Phoenix Metropolitan Area

PHOENIX (Oct. 29, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a high pollution advisory for Thursday, Oct. 30, as a result of forecasts calling for high winds and blowing dust in the Phoenix metropolitan area throughout the day.

The dust, combined with lingering smoke from fires Southern California wildfires, could cause particle pollution concentrations to approach unhealthy levels.

If high winds and smoke persist, the advisory may be extended through Friday.

ADEQ advises children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to limit their outdoor activities on Thursday or until conditions improve.

Daily air quality forecasts are on ADEQ's web site at http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/ozone/ensemble.pdf or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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ADEQ Proposes Plan to Improve Visibility in Arizona's Scenic Areas

PHOENIX (Oct. 24, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today released the first in a series of air quality implementation plans intended to restore visibility in national parks and wilderness areas in Arizona to natural conditions by 2064.

The plans, collectively called the Regional Haze State Implementation Plan, seek to manage and reduce visibility impairment produced by fine particles from a variety of sources that absorb or scatter light across a broad geographic area.

"Today we are taking the next step in a long process to protect our state's scenic areas for future generations," Owens said. "Anyone who lives in or has visited Arizona should understand the importance of protecting these national treasures, which are vital aspects of our heritage, our culture and our tourism economy. Clean air is one of the best legacies we can leave our children."

The first installment of the plan builds on work done since 1991 by the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission and its successor the Western Regional Air Partnership to address visibility in areas on the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest national parks and the Sycamore Canyon and Mount Baldy wilderness areas.

The plan is designed to first slow the degradation of visibility in these scenic areas, and then over time to restore these areas to natural visibility conditions. To accomplish this task, ADEQ has been working for several years with other Western states, tribal governments, metropolitan planning organizations, environmentalists and with Arizona's agricultural and industrial communities to develop the technical tools and policies needed to address the various contributors to regional haze.

Among the challenges facing those working on the plan have been identifying pollution sources as well as accounting for weather, population growth and interstate transportation of air pollution. Because regional haze spans broad geographic areas, it is often difficult to attribute the sources of air pollution responsible for degrading visibility in specific locations.

The sources of emissions responsible for regional haze include a wide range of manmade and natural air pollution such as vehicles, industrial sources, agricultural activities and forest fires.

"This plan reflects the dedication and hard work of many people who have contributed their expertise and time over several years," Owens said. "With input from others interested in this effort over the next few months, we hope to refine the plan into one that represents a reasonable, common sense approach to protecting Arizona's natural scenic beauty."

ADEQ will host public hearings in Phoenix and Flagstaff on Nov. 24, to solicit public comments on the plan. The state has until Dec. 31, 2003, to submit its implementation plan for the Colorado Plataeu to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plans for other federally-designated Class 1 areas in Arizona are targeted for completion in 2004.

The draft Regional Haze State Implementation Plan will soon be available on ADEQ's Web site. The document is also available at the Flagstaff City/Coconino County Library and the ADEQ record center, located at 1110 W. Washington St. in Phoenix.

Public hearings on the draft Regional Haze State Implementation Plan will be held at:

  • The Flagstaff City/Coconino County Library, Program Room, Monday, Nov. 24, 2003, at 4:30 p.m.
  • The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's main office, Room 250, 1110 W. Washington St. in Phoenix, Monday, Nov. 24, 2003, at 5 p.m.

ADEQ is also accepting written comments on the plan that are received on or before Dec. 3, 2003. Comments should be addressed, faxed, or e-mailed to:

Corky Martinkovic
Air Quality Planning Section
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
1110 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Fax: (602) 771-2366

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Issues Order to Close Flagstaff Crematorium

PHOENIX (Oct. 24, 2003) Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens has issued an order of abatement to stop the Flagstaff Crematory from operating and to compel its owner to apply for an air quality permit that meets environmental standards.

The order was issued yesterday notifying the facility owner, Robert McMillan, that ADEQ has determined the facility is operating without a proper air quality permit, a violation of state law subject to a $10,000 per day penalty.

The facility, located at 302 W. Oak Ave., has been the subject of numerous complaints from nearby residents in recent weeks about odor and smoke from the facility.

"Before we allow this facility back into operation, its owner will have to demonstrate that it can meet the state's air quality standards," Owens said. "We will also ensure that its staff has the proper training and procedures in place to operate it properly and prevent excess emissions."

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Governor Napolitano to Co-Chair Western Regional Air Partnership

PHOENIX (Oct. 21, 2003) -- Governor Janet Napolitano has been named co-chair of the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), a coalition of state, tribal and federal agencies that provides technical support and assistance to states and tribes on air quality and visibility initiatives in the Western United States.

Governor Napolitano was elected to the post by consensus vote of members at the WRAP's semi-annual meeting in Salt Lake City last week. She succeeds Utah Governor Mike Leavitt who has served as co-chairman since the partnership was formed in 1997. The WRAP tribal co-chair is Governor Fred S. Vallo, Sr., Pueblo of Acoma.

The WRAP was created as the successor to the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission, which made more than 70 recommendations in June 1996 for improving visibility in 16 national parks and wilderness areas on the Colorado Plateau.

"I am pleased and honored to be selected to succeed Governor Mike Leavitt as chair of this important group of Western states," Gov. Napolitano said. "As home to many national parks and wilderness areas, Arizona has a significant stake in protecting the natural beauty of the Western United States and promoting regional air quality. The Western Regional Air Partnership has led the nation in dealing with regional air quality planning issues, and that is a tradition I intend to continue."

Governor Napolitano's election as WRAP chair also means that Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens will coordinate the WRAP's ongoing efforts.

"Under Governor Napolitano's leadership, Arizona will play an even greater role in protecting air quality in the West," Owens said.

The WRAP, which is administered jointly by the Western Governors' Association and the National Tribal Environmental Council, provides technical assistance and policy guidance to member states and tribes to help them achieve regional air quality and visibility goals.

WRAP committees and forums present scientific findings and seek input from businesses, academia, environmental groups and other public interest representatives.

Present members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Tribal members include Pueblo of Acoma, Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Cortina Indian Rancheria, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Nation of the Grand Canyon, Nez Perce Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Salish and Kootenai Confederated Tribes, Pueblo of San Felipe, and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall. Federal partners include the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Pilot Project to Reduce Children's Exposure to Pesticides in Arizona Schools

PHOENIX (Oct. 15, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced the agency is beginning a pilot project, in coordination with the University of Arizona, to assist Arizona schools in developing an integrated pest management program to reduce school children's exposure to harmful pesticides.

The project is part of ADEQ's ongoing Children's Environmental Health Project, which seeks to reduce the health risks to Arizona children posed by exposure to environmental hazards or pollutants.

Integrated pest management, or IPM, uses a combination of mechanical and biological methods to minimize the need for chemical pesticides to manage insects, rodents and other pests safely.

The project is based on a highly successful ongoing program in the Kyrene School District, which has demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach in managing pests and reducing the costs associated with pest management in the district.

"Integrated pest management is a cost-effective, common sense approach to keep children safe and reduce our reliance on chemicals to manage pests in schools," Owens said. "It can dramatically reduce the potential exposure of school children to these substances while reducing the long-term costs associated with pest management at schools."

IPM begins with education, often involving a qualified pest management professional who advises a school on a range of approaches to pest prevention. Later, a combination of mechanical and behavioral strategies are incorporated into custodial activities such as improved sanitation practices as well as improved building security and maintenance.

Students, teachers and custodial staff share the responsibility for identifying pathways for pests and suggesting actions to prevent infestation from developing.

"The process is perfect for a school setting because it involves learning," Owens said. "We are educating students, faculty and school maintenance staff about things they can do to make a school environment less attractive to bugs and other pests. The point is to get everyone used to thinking about ways to manage pests rather than simply reacting with chemicals and poisons."

In the coming months, ADEQ and its project team will be working with officials from the Scottsdale Unified School District, Casa Grande Elementary School District, Mesa School District and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community School District to select schools and implement the pilot project.

The pilot project is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which hopes to expand it into a nationwide program.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Fines Gold Canyon Sewer Company $17,000 for Wastewater Discharges

PHOENIX (Oct. 15, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today fined the Gold Canyon Sewer Company $17,000 for illegally discharging wastewater to a wash adjacent the company's treatment facility in January and March 2003.

The company has struggled in recent years to comply with its permit conditions, as new housing developments in rapidly growing Pinal County have outpaced the facility's ability to handle the increase in sewage, particularly during the winter tourism season.

Earlier this year, the company sought ADEQ approval of a plan to modernize and expand the facility, but Owens refused to consider it until the company addressed citizen concerns about odor and wastewater discharges to the nearby wash.

Owens made clear to the company that payment of the fine and settlement of other violations of state laws and regulations had to occur before ADEQ would approve any modernization plans.

Since that time, the company has replaced its management team and taken a number of interim steps to reduce odor at the facility. The company also withdrew a permit request that would have allowed them to periodically discharge treated effluent into the nearby wash, after ADEQ indicated it would not approve the request.

"The company appears to be moving in the right direction," Owens said, adding that ADEQ continues to monitor the company's compliance."The challenge for them is to remain in compliance and to improve their relations with their neighbors in Gold Canyon as they move forward with longer term plans to modernize the facility. We will be watching them closely."

As part of any modernization plan, ADEQ will require the facility to implement permanent odor abatement technology.

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ADEQ Hosts "Smoke School" in Kingman

PHOENIX (Oct. 9, 2003) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will be sponsoring a free "smoke school" Oct. 15 and 16 in Kingman, Arizona.

The training will be held at the Mohave County Community College, 1971 Jagerson Ave., Student Center Room 106, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Oct. 15 session will consist of both classroom and field testing; the Oct. 16 session will be field testing only.

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.

ADEQ conducts smoke school training twice a year (spring and fall) at locations around the state. Training sessions this fall are also scheduled in Show Low, Tucson and Tempe.

To register for a training session, please contact Fred Ellis, at (602) 771-4851, toll free at (800) 234-5677.

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