Newsroom: Press Release Archive: July 2005
  • July 26, 2005: ADEQ Director Owens Welcomes Plan to Move Uranium Tailings Away from Colorado River
  • July 26, 2005: Colorado River Task Force Identifies Pollutants of Concern
  • July 20, 2005: ADEQ Extends High Pollution Advisory to Thursday, July 21
  • July 19, 2005: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Wednesday, July 20
  • July 14, 2005: Arizona and Sonora Approve Plan to Improve Air Quality along Border
  • July 13, 2005: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Policy to Protect Children from Toxic Facilities Near Schools
  • July 11, 2005: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Tuesday, July 12
  • July 11, 2005: Arizona Climate Change Advisory Group to Meet
  • July 08, 2005: ADEQ Reaches Settlement with Tucson to Improve City's Wastewater System
  • July 08, 2005: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Names Matt Capalby Director of Flagstaff Office

ADEQ Director Owens Welcomes Plan to Move Uranium Tailings Away from Colorado River

PHOENIX (July 26, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to move 12 million tons of radioactive uranium tailings away from the Colorado River.

Owens asked DOE to do so in a Feb. 17 letter, when DOE was considering leaving the tailings at their present location, 175 feet from the River.

Owens wrote at the time: "Allowing this ongoing threat to the Colorado River to continue is simply unacceptable. The Department of Energy must remove the uranium tailings now."

Today, as Owens recommended, DOE announced plans to move the tailings to a holding site 30 miles away at Crescent Junction, Utah. DOE plans to begin the move next spring.

"DOE's decision is a welcome and important step in preserving the water quality of the Colorado River," Owens said. "The River is a lifeblood for Arizona, and we intend to continue to monitor the situation to make sure that DOE follows through on its commitment."

In 2004, the Colorado River was named the #1 "Most Endangered River" in the country by American Rivers, due in large part to the radioactive waste seeping into the river from the Moab site. According to American Rivers, 110,000 gallons of radioactive groundwater seep into the River each day from the site.

ADEQ also coordinates the Clean Colorado River Alliance, a major initiative that brings federal, state and local government officials together with business and community leaders to address water quality in the River.

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Colorado River Task Force Identifies Pollutants of Concern

PHOENIX (July 26, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the Clean Colorado River Alliance (CCRA) has identified the main pollutants of concern potentially affecting water quality in the Colorado River on which the group's work will focus.

The list includes: nutrients such as nitrogen, nitrates and ammonia; metals including chromium and uranium; perchlorate, endocrine-disrupting compounds, pathogens, salinity and sediment.

Septic tank systems in several communities along the Colorado River have contributed to nitrate concentrations. A large uranium mill tailings pile near Moab, Utah is the primary source of uranium potentially impacting the Colorado River, and the primary source of potential perchlorate contamination has been identified as the Kerr-McGee manufacturing facility located outside of Las Vegas.

"The Colorado River is the lifeblood of Arizona," Owens said. "The CCRA's identification of pollutants of concern is an important step towards developing a comprehensive strategy to protect the Colorado River."

The CCRA consists of more than 30 leaders from communities along the Colorado River and throughout the state appointed by Governor Napolitano to develop recommendations to address existing water quality problems in the Colorado River and lay the foundation for a regional framework for future water quality protection. In 2004 the Colorado River was named the #1 "Most Endangered River" in the country by American Rivers, based on contamination risks affecting the River.

The CCRA will hold several meetings and will present its recommendations and proposed action plan to the Governor in December.

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ADEQ Extends High Pollution Advisory to Thursday, July 21

PHOENIX (July 20, 2005) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is extending a High Pollution Advisory to Thursday, July 21 for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecasted ground-level ozone concentrations expected to exceed air quality standards. The advisory is based on forecasts which indicate a combination of high daytime temperatures, lack of cloud cover and relatively light winds. A High Pollution Advisory is in effect for today, July 20.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Thursday and suggests that the general public limit outdoor activity throughout the day.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their pollution reduction action plans and all Valley motorists should try to reduce ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • 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.

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

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 Issues High Pollution Advisory for Wednesday, July 20

PHOENIX (July 19, 2005) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is issuing a High Pollution Advisory for Wednesday, July 20 for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecasted ground-level ozone concentrations expected to exceed air quality standards. The advisory is based on forecasts which indicate a combination of high daytime temperatures, lack of cloud cover and relatively light winds.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Wednesday and suggests that the general public limit outdoor activity throughout the day.

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their pollution reduction action plans and all Valley motorists should try to reduce ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • 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.

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

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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Arizona and Sonora Approve Plan to Improve Air Quality along Border

PHOENIX (July 14, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ and the Mexican state of Sonora's Secretariat of Urban Infrastructure and Ecology (SIUE) have entered into a partnership to improve air quality on both sides of the border, focusing particularly on Ambos Nogales.

Owens said that at the recent Arizona-Mexico Commission meeting in Tucson, he and SIUE Secretary Humberto Daniel Valdés Ruy Sánchez signed the Plan of Action for Improving Air Quality in Ambos Nogales. Under the plan Arizona and Sonora will work together on a number of air quality projects, including:

  • Paving or otherwise stabilizing unpaved roads and parking lots on both sides of the border.
  • Reducing vehicle emissions through public education, data collection and promoting alternative fuels use; building major new transportation corridors and bridges; creating a local ride-sharing contest, bicycle lanes, and other activities to promote alternative transportation and reduce the use of single occupancy vehicles.
  • Starting recycling programs to reduce emissions from residential trash burning.
  • Conducting a thermally designed housing and alternative heating/cooking device pilot program, to reduce the need for wood burning in home heating and cooking.
  • Reducing dust pollution caused by erosion by encouraging vegetation planting efforts and engineering solutions.
  • Collaborating to protect children's environmental health through improving air quality.

"Improving air quality in the Ambos Nogales area is a top priority for ADEQ," Owens said. "We will continue to cooperate with our neighbors in Sonora to make the environment cleaner and healthier for residents along the border."

Ambos Nogales is the site of the first intensive air quality border study conducted by ADEQ. The study concluded that unpaved roads were the primary source of the air-polluting particulates in Ambos Nogales and organic compounds resulting from the operation of motor vehicles, including commercial trucks, were the dominant cause of hazardous air pollutants on both sides of the border.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Policy to Protect Children from Toxic Facilities Near Schools

PHOENIX (July 13, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has formalized a new policy to protect Arizona children from exposure to toxic substances and air pollutants from facilities near schools.

Under the policy, a facility seeking a permit or approval from ADEQ must demonstrate that children at nearby schools will be protected from any toxic releases or emissions from the facility. If children at any nearby school would not be protected, ADEQ may deny the permit or approval consistent with the department's existing authority to do so.

"We want to do everything we can to ensure that Arizona's schoolchildren will not be exposed to harmful pollutants," Owens said. "This policy gives notice that we will not allow a facility to be located near a school if it would present a risk to the health and safety of our children."

ADEQ will evaluate the potential impact of air pollutants from a proposed facility on children at any nearby schools, as well as determine whether any schools would be within the evacuation area in the event of a toxic release from the facility and whether vehicles carrying hazardous materials to and from the facility would be traveling in school zones. If the permit application or plan approval request cannot be revised to ensure that children at nearby schools will be protected from any such air pollutants or a toxic release from the facility or associated traffic, ADEQ may deny the permit or approval.

The policy applies to facilities near existing public, charter and private schools at the K-12 level, and all planned sites for schools approved by the Arizona School Facilities Board.

In addition to new permit applications and approvals, the policy covers renewal of permits or plan approvals, expansion of existing facilities with permits or approvals, and modifications or amendments to permits or plan approvals that increase a facility's potential to emit pollutants, add new pollutants or otherwise increase the potential that children at nearby schools would not be protected.

Owens said that ADEQ developed the policy as part of the Governor's Children's Environmental Health Project to reduce environmental risks to children's health in Arizona.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Tuesday, July 12

PHOENIX (July 11, 2005) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is issuing a High Pollution Advisory for Tuesday, July 12 for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecasted ground-level ozone concentrations expected to exceed air quality standards. The advisory is based on forecasts which indicate a combination of near 115-degree daytime temperatures and relatively light winds.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Tuesday and suggests that the general public limit outdoor activity throughout the day.

"The combination of extreme heat, stagnant air and heavy traffic will likely cause ozone levels to rise over the next few days," ADEQ Director Steve Owens said. "People with respiratory problems, especially children and seniors with asthma, should take extra care."

Employers participating in the Valley's Trip Reduction Program should implement their pollution reduction action plans and all Valley motorists should try to reduce ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • 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.

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

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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Arizona Climate Change Advisory Group to Meet

PHOENIX (July 11, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG), appointed by Governor Napolitano to develop recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Arizona, will hold its first meeting July 14 from 1-5pm at the State Capitol Executive Tower in Phoenix.

Earlier this year, Governor Napolitano issued Executive Order 2005-02 establishing the CCAG. The Executive Order stated that "Arizona and other Western States have particular concerns about the impacts of climate change and climate variability on our environment, including the potential for prolonged drought, severe forest fires, warmer temperatures, increased snowmelt, reduced snow pack and other effects."

The Executive Order also stated that "actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including increasing energy efficiency, conserving natural resources and developing renewable energy sources, may have multiple benefits including economic development, job creation, cost savings, and improved air quality."

The Governor directed the CCAG to produce a Climate Change Action Plan with recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Arizona by June 30, 2006.

Recommendations from the CCAG are to recognize Arizona's interests in continued growth, economic development and energy security.

The CCAG consists of 35 members representing electric power generation, the fossil fuel industry, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, forestry, construction and building, transportation, tourism and recreation, health care, non-governmental organizations, Indian tribes, state and local government and the general public.

Executive Order 2005-02 charges ADEQ with responsibility for coordinating the CCAG.

Arizona joins a growing number of states addressing climate change issues and greenhouse gas emissions, including New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

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ADEQ Reaches Settlement with Tucson to Improve City's Wastewater System

PHOENIX (July 8, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has reached a settlement with the City of Tucson that will improve the city's wastewater system.

ADEQ and Tucson reached the settlement agreement to resolve water quality violations that occurred in connection with the unauthorized release of treated effluent from the city's wastewater treatment facility into Pantano Wash during 2003.

The agreement requires Tucson to make several improvements and upgrades to its wastewater infrastructure. Under the agreement the city must install a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to provide real-time information about leaks in the wastewater system; complete the construction of the South Loop of the Reclaimed Water Distribution System, which will improve system reliability and reduce imbalance on the system; and implement a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to build an enhanced clarifier, to better separate solids from the water in the effluent, resulting in more effective wastewater treatment. These improvements are expected to cost at least $1 million.

The agreement also requires the city to report any unauthorized releases or other system non-compliance to ADEQ within 24 hours. Notification to ADEQ must include detailed information regarding the release, the cause of the release and a plan for clean-up if necessary.

Finally, the city will pay a $25,000 civil penalty.

"This is an appropriate resolution of this matter and will result in important improvements to Tucson's wastewater system," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Names Matt Capalby Director of Flagstaff Office

PHOENIX (July 8, 2005) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that he has appointed Matthew Capalby as director of ADEQ's Northern Regional Office in Flagstaff.

"Matt Capalby is well known throughout Northern Arizona and will do a terrific job of overseeing our Flagstaff office operations," Owens said. "Matt will help us continue to ensure that residents of Northern Arizona receive the attention and service they deserve from ADEQ."

A Kingman native, Capalby served as ADEQ's Community Liaison for Northern Arizona during 2003-2004. Prior to that time, he served as assistant director of the Mohave County Economic Development Authority, chairman of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce's Business and Government Relations Committee, and commissioner of the Kingman Municipal Utilities Commission and Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission. He also served seven years as a rescue crewman and medic in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Capalby assumes the position as head of ADEQ's Flagstaff office left vacant by the death in May of former legislator and justice of the peace Jim Sedillo. Sedillo had been appointed by Owens in January 2003.

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