Newsroom: Press Release Archive: May 2004
  • May 25, 2004: ADEQ Director Owens Reminds Arizona Anglers - Fish Consumption Advisories Still In Effect For 11 Arizona Lakes
  • May 24, 2004: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Expansion of Municipal Tank Closure Program
  • May 21, 2004: Fish Kills Prompt Monitoring, Investigation at Salt River Reservoirs
  • May 14, 2004: ADEQ Extends Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area Through Weekend
  • May 13, 2004: ADEQ Extends Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area
  • May 12, 2004: ADEQ Issues Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area
  • May 10, 2004: Estimate of Fuel Spilled in Kinder Morgan Pipeline Break Now Over 32,000 Gallons
  • May 6, 2004: ADEQ Director Owens Applauds Legislative Action Banning MTBE
  • May 4, 2004: ADEQ Leads Task Force to Address Perchlorate Contamination in Arizona
  • May 3, 2004: ADEQ Issues Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area

ADEQ Director Owens Reminds Arizona Anglers - Fish Consumption Advisories Still In Effect For 11 Arizona Lakes

PHOENIX (May 25, 2004) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today reminded Arizonans to exercise caution throughout this year's peak fishing season, as several lakes throughout the state are still under fish consumption advisories due to higher levels of mercury and other pollutants discovered in certain species of fish.

All lakes currently under such advisories are still safe for boating, swimming and other recreational uses, Owens added.

As part of its statewide initiative to reduce human exposure to mercury, ADEQ conducts regular testing of lakes throughout the state in order to assess the environmental health risks posed by the metal. Mercury is quickly absorbed by bacteria in sediments and passed along through the food web to other living organisms. Fish become contaminated through a process called bioaccumulation, which occurs when larger fish absorb mercury from smaller fish and insects. Mercury is a toxic pollutant that has been identified as causing numerous health problems when ingested, most notably its toxicity to the central nervous system. Infants and pregnant or nursing mothers are considered most at risk to possible health effects.

"We simply want to remind people to be careful as we approach Memorial Day Weekend and enter the peak fishing season," Owens said. "It is still safe to fish and make other recreational uses of these lakes, but they should look for and follow the consumption guidelines posted at each affected lake."

Fish consumption advisories remain in place for 11 lakes throughout the state. The details of each consumption advisory are as follows:

Alamo Lake, Mohave and LaPaz Counties

Species: Largemouth bass and black crappie

Children under the age of six:  No consumption
Women of child bearing age:  One 8 oz. fish meal per month
All other adult women  Three 8 oz. fish meals per month
Adult men:  Four 8 oz. fish meals per month

Species: Channel catfish

Children under the age of six:  No consumption
Women of child bearing age:  One 8 oz. fish meal per month
All other adult women:  Five 8 oz. fish meals per month
Adult men:  Six 8 oz. fish meals per month

Coors Lake, Yavapai County, near Bagdad

Species: Largemouth bass

Children under the age of six:  No consumption
Women of child bearing age:  One 8 oz. fish meal per month
All other adult women:  Three 8 oz. fish meals per month
Adult men:  Four 8 oz. fish meals per month

Species: Bluegill and black crappie
No consumption limits on bluegill or black crappie are in place for Coors Lake.

Arivaca Lake, Pima County

Species: All species
Do not consume any fish or other aquatic organisms from this lake.

Peña Blanca Lake, Santa Cruz County

Species: All species
Do not consume any fish or other aquatic organisms from this lake.

Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Coconino County

Species: Walleye
Do not consume walleye caught in Upper or Lower Lake Mary.

Species: All other species (excluding trout and yellow bass)
Consume only one 8-ounce fish meal per month.

Species: Trout and yellow bass
No consumption limits on trout and yellow bass are in place for Upper or Lower Lake Mary.

Parker Canyon Lake, Cochise County

Species: All species (excluding trout)

Children under the age of 16:  No consumption
Women of child bearing age:  No consumption
All other adult women:  Consult health care provider
Adult men:  Three 8 oz. fish meals per month

Species: Trout
No consumption limits on trout are in place for Parker Canyon Lake.

Lyman Lake, Apache County

Species: All species

Children under the age of six:  No consumption
Women of child bearing age:  One 8 oz. fish meal per month
Children under the age of 16:  One 8 oz. fish meal per month
All other adult women:  Consult health care provider
Adult men:  Five 8 oz. fish meals per month

Soldier Lake and Soldier Annex, Coconino County

Species: All species
Do not consume any fish or other aquatic organisms from this lake.

Long Lake, Coconino County

Species: All species (excluding trout
Do not consume fish other than trout from this lake.

Species: Trout
No consumption limits for trout are in place for Long Lake.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Expansion of Municipal Tank Closure Program

PHOENIX (May 24, 2004) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that rural communities soon will be able to receive increased assistance in removing and remediating "orphaned" underground storage tanks throughout rural Arizona, thanks to the passage of H.B. 2651.

Gov. Janet Napolitano signed H.B. 2651 into law May 20. ADEQ had proposed the bill to expand the Municipal Tank Closure Fund program to include abandoned underground storage tank cleanup sites in unincorporated areas. Eligibility in the three-year-old program was previously limited to clean-up sites in incorporated communities of 15,000 or fewer people. Removing abandoned underground storage tanks prevents them from leaking contaminants into soil and nearby aquifers. Many of these tanks belonged to former service stations or commercial businesses and may not be readily apparent on a property.

"Expansion of this important program to unincorporated areas of the state will both protect the environment by improving ADEQ's ability to assist rural communities in removing underground storage tanks and help economic development in these communities by putting these properties back into productive use," Owens said.

The ADEQ Municipal Tank Closure Program can remove and cleanup affected sites at no cost to the property owner or the community and can also reimburse municipalities for application costs.

To date, the program has paid approximately $260,000 to municipalities for complete closure of underground storage tank sites. The program has operated on a one-time appropriation of $2.4 million since its inception in 2001.

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Fish Kills Prompt Monitoring, Investigation at Salt River Reservoirs

PHOENIX (May 21, 2004) -- ADEQ Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ is working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Health Services, the Tonto National Forest, Salt River Project and the University of Arizona to assess and characterize the cause of recent fish kills that have occurred in Apache, Canyon and Saguaro Lakes.

Combined monitoring efforts by ADEQ, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the University of Arizona have confirmed the presence of potentially toxic algae within the lakes. The algae - Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii - have become dominant in Apache Lake and have been detected in other Valley reservoirs. The effects of the toxins are varied and can affect aquatic life, domestic animals, pets or humans that come into contact with the algae. The release of the toxins may occur within several hours to several days of coming into contact with the algae and can result in anything from mild stress to mortality in aquatic organisms. Symptoms in humans include mild skin irritation, nausea, vomiting or respiratory distress.

"We want to make sure that the public is fully informed about conditions at these lakes," Owens said. "People should not be overly concerned, but they should be careful to avoid contact with water in these lakes that is foamy."

ADEQ officials noted that additional samples are being taken and analyzed but to date, no toxins have been found in either the water or fish tissue. Until further notice, the public should observe the following guidance when recreating in and around the reservoirs:

  • Boaters and swimmers are advised to avoid contact with and ingestion of water in areas where the water is green-tinged or foamy. Particular attention should be given to children and pets, which may ingest large quantities of water.
  • The toxins produced by these algae do not appear to collect in fish tissue, but anglers should take a common-sense approach to eating fish caught from lakes. If the fish looks or smells unhealthy or was dead when caught, don't eat it. Fish caught should be thoroughly cleaned, gutted and cooked before eating.

This blue-green algae is a member of a group of algae that are commonly associated with summertime conditions - high temperatures, low wind, increased nutrient loadings. In Arizona, two factors may cause these early blooms - ongoing drought conditions prevent replenishing supplies of water from snowmelt and unusually high levels of nutrients brought into the lakes after the Rodeo-Chediski fire of 2002. Unlike other algae, Cylindrospermopsis does not form patches or scum on the surface, but rather forms in clumps or bands two to six feet below the surface. It generally forms in slow moving or still water and will cause the water to appear green-tinged or foamy.

For more information on the status of sampling or the fish kills contact:

Michael Murphy
Arizona Department of Health Services
(602) 542-1094

Marc Dahlberg
Arizona Game & Fish Department
(602) 789-3260

Sam Rector
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
(602) 771-4536

Frequently Asked Questions are also available.

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ADEQ Extends Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area Through Weekend

PHOENIX (May 14, 2004) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has extended the Ozone Health Watch in effect today for the Phoenix metropolitan area through Sunday, May 16 as increasingly warm and stable weather conditions contribute to ground-level ozone concentrations near unhealthy levels.

ADEQ is recommending that children, senior citizens, and those with respiratory illnesses reduce their outdoor activities this weekend, or reschedule them to nighttime hours, when ground-level ozone concentrations are significantly reduced.

Earlier this week, northwesterly winds imported additional ozone and ozone precursors - the chemical forerunners of ozone - from southern California to the Phoenix metro area. As temperatures increase through Sunday, ozone concentrations will continue to increase. ADEQ forecasters do not expect an exceedance of the 8-hour standard for ozone, but levels are likely to approach the standard of 85 parts per billion.

Due to the prevailing wind patterns ADEQ officials expect ozone levels to be at their highest this weekend in the northeast and east valley.

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's Web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

ADEQ has instituted two levels of air quality notification for Valley residents. An Ozone Health Watch alerts sensitive populations (i.e. senior citizens, children, people with respiratory illnesses) that ground-level ozone is expected to approach unhealthy levels and to consider reducing or rescheduling prolonged activity or heavy exertion outdoors, particularly during afternoon hours when ozone concentrations are typically at their highest. ADEQ issues a High Pollution Advisory for ozone when ozone concentrations are expected to exceed air quality standards. When a High Pollution Advisory is issued, participating Valley businesses are directed to implement employee trip reduction measures and all Valley motorists are encouraged to curb ozone production in the Valley by carpooling, utilizing public transportation and telecommuting when possible.

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ADEQ Extends Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area

PHOENIX (May 13, 2004) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has extended the Ozone Health Watch in effect today for the Phoenix metropolitan area through Friday, May 14 as increasingly warm and stable weather conditions contribute to ground-level ozone concentrations near unhealthy levels.

Children, senior citizens, and those with respiratory illnesses should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors on Friday, particularly during the afternoon hours when ground-level ozone concentrations are expected to be at their highest.

On Tuesday and Wednesday northwesterly winds imported additional ozone and ozone precursors - the chemical forerunners of ozone - from California to the Phoenix metro area. Relatively light winds along with increasing daytime temperatures are expected to keep ozone production and resulting concentrations higher on Thursday, a situation that may continue into the weekend. ADEQ forecasters do not expect an exceedance of the 8-hour standard for ozone, but levels are likely to approach the standard of 85 parts per billion.

Due to the prevailing wind patterns ADEQ officials expect ozone levels to be at their highest Thursday and Friday in the northeast and east valley.

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's Web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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ADEQ Issues Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area

PHOENIX (May 12, 2004) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Ozone Health Watch for the Phoenix metropolitan area for Thursday, May 13, due to the possibility of ground-level ozone concentrations nearing unhealthy levels.

Children, senior citizens, and those with respiratory illnesses should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors on Thursday, particularly during the afternoon hours when ground-level ozone concentrations are expected to be at their highest.

Although windy conditions and cooler temperatures have settled over the Valley, northwesterly winds have brought ozone from southern California. This import of ozone and ozone precursors is expected to increase ground-level ozone levels for much of Thursday and Friday. ADEQ officials do not expect an exceedance of the 8-hour standard for ozone, but levels may approach the standard of 85 parts per billion.

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's Web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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Estimate of Fuel Spilled in Kinder Morgan Pipeline Break Now Over 32,000 Gallons
Kinder Morgan Admits It Really Doesn't Know How Much Fuel Was Released

PHOENIX (May 10, 2004) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the volume of gasoline released from the Kinder Morgan pipeline rupture last July 30 is now calculated to exceed 32,000 gallons, with the figure increasing weekly.

Initial estimates put the total gallons released during the rupture at approximately 10,000. When ADEQ pressed Kinder Morgan last fall for an accurate accounting after it was discovered that groundwater at the site was contaminated by the spill, the company said that roughly 16,000 gallons had been released, a figure Kinder Morgan reiterated in a Tucson newspaper column in February.

ADEQ has been closely monitoring the reports Kinder Morgan submits to the agency outlining how much gasoline has been removed from the aquifer at the site each week. On April 5, after the total volume of fuel recovered from the groundwater at that point exceeded 20,000 gallons, ADEQ sent a letter to Kinder Morgan asking the company to explain the discrepancy between that figure and the figure the company had provided to ADEQ last fall. ADEQ's letter pointed out that Kinder Morgan also previously had claimed that over 7,600 additional gallons of gasoline were vacuumed up from Silvercroft Wash immediately after the spill last summer.

As of last Thursday, May 6, more than 25,000 gallons of gasoline have been removed so far from the groundwater. Coupled with the 7,600 gallons recovered from Silvercroft Wash last summer, the volume of fuel released from the pipeline rupture now exceeds 32,600 gallons, roughly double the amount Kinder Morgan estimated last fall, with a substantial volume still remaining to be removed from the aquifer.

In its response to ADEQ's April 5 letter, Kinder Morgan confessed that it really does not know how much fuel was released during the July 30 rupture and told the department that the company has no way to provide an accurate accounting.

"It is incredible that Kinder Morgan apparently is incapable of providing accurate information about how much gasoline its ruptured pipeline spewed into the environment last July," ADEQ Director Owens said. "This really calls their credibility - and alleged expertise -- into question."

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ADEQ Director Owens Applauds Legislative Action Banning MTBE

PHOENIX (May 6, 2004) -- ADEQ Director Steve Owens today applauded the Arizona House of Representatives unanimously approving HB 2142, which would ban MTBE in gasoline sold in Arizona beginning Jan. 1, 2005. This action follows the unanimous Senate passage in April.

"The ban is an important step in protecting Arizona's precious water resources from MTBE contamination," Owens said.

Owens made it a top department priority to obtain EPA approval for removing the requirement that Arizona's Clean Burning Gasoline contain MTBE. The EPA approved Owens's request in the fall of 2003. Gasoline sold in the Phoenix metropolitan area is no longer required to contain MTBE in the summertime months. Upon Governor Napolitano's signature on this legislation, fuel throughout Arizona will no longer contain MTBE.

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ADEQ Leads Task Force to Address Perchlorate Contamination in Arizona

PHOENIX (May 4, 2004) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced the formation of an interagency task force that will address the issue of perchlorate contamination in Arizona's water resources.

The task force includes officials from ADEQ, the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The task force will assess the extent of perchlorate contamination in Arizona and develop strategies for reducing the risk of perchlorate contamination.

Perchlorate is a man-made inorganic salt that has been used since the late 1940s as a component in solid rocket fuel, munitions and pyrotechnics. The main sources of perchlorate contamination are the soil and water surrounding facilities that housed traditional users of perchlorate salts - military bases, aerospace installations and defense contractors involved in the production of propellants. Perchlorate is soluble and mobile in ground and surface water, and degrades very slowly in the environment.

"We want to ensure that Arizona's citizens are protected from this pollutant," ADEQ Director Steve Owens said. "We are working to identify the extent of perchlorate contamination in our state in order to reduce the risk of exposure and eliminate future pollution concerns."

Perchlorate, when ingested, can limit the uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland. Continual disruption of the thyroid gland can impeded the ability of the gland to produce thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and growth. Infants and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the health effects that disruption of thyroid functions can cause.

Arizona has set a health-based guidance level for perchlorate at 14 parts per billion (ppb) in water. The guidance level serves as a benchmark by which officials and consumers can judge whether a drinking water source is safe for use. Currently there is no federal safe drinking water standard for perchlorate, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to study the issue.

Perchlorate contamination has been found to be moving through the Las Vegas Wash into Lake Mead, and then into the Colorado River. The source of the perchlorate contamination has been identified as the Kerr-McGee manufacturing facility located outside of Las Vegas. Currently, perchlorate levels in the Colorado River have not been found to exceed Arizona's health-based guidance level.

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ADEQ Issues Ozone Health Watch for Phoenix Metropolitan Area

PHOENIX (May 3, 2004) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Ozone Health Watch for the Phoenix metropolitan area for Tuesday, May 4, due to the possibility of ground-level ozone concentrations nearing unhealthy levels.

Children, senior citizens, and those with respiratory illnesses should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors on Tuesday, to reduce the risk of harmful health effects associated with ozone.

A ridge of high pressure has entered the Valley, bringing clear skies and higher temperatures that are expected to contribute to ground-level ozone production. These conditions combined with a wind pattern favorable for ozone production are expected to contribute to increases in ground-level ozone concentrations. Ground-level ozone is produced when certain airborne organic compounds react with sunlight. An Ozone Health Watch was also issued for Monday, May 3.

"Although we do not expect to exceed air quality standards on Monday or Tuesday, it is important for sensitive populations to be mindful of this watch," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "We are recommending that children, senior citizens and those with respiratory illnesses limit their outdoor activities during the day or reschedule activities to nighttime hours, when ozone levels will be reduced."

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

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