Newsroom: Press Release Archive: June 2006
  • June 29, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces New Location for Northern Regional Office in Flagstaff
  • June 28, 2006: El Paso Natural Gas to Pay $340,000 in Penalties for Violations in Mohave County and Pima County
  • June 23, 2006: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Ozone for Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25
  • June 22, 2006: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces $96,600 Grant to Winslow for Cleanup of "Standin' on the Corner" Site
  • June 19, 2006: ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Brins Fire near Sedona
  • June 15, 2006: ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Woody Fire in Flagstaff
  • June 15, 2006: ADEQ Issues Revised Draft Water Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Sierrita Mine near Green Valley
  • June 14, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Water Quality Permits for New Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bisbee
  • June 8, 2006: Deadline for Challenge to ADEQ Air Quality Permit for Carlota Mine Passes Without Appeal
  • June 7, 2006: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Drinking Water Treatment Project to Reopen Two Wells at State Superfund Site in Tucson
  • June 2, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Childhood Asthma Forum in Yuma on June 6
  • June 1, 2006: ADEQ Issues First High Pollution Advisory for Ozone
  • June 1, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Draft Water Quality Permit for Resolution Copper Mine in Superior

ADEQ Director Owens Announces New Location for Northern Regional Office in Flagstaff

PHOENIX (June 29, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced that ADEQ has moved its Northern Regional Office in Flagstaff.

The new location is 1801 W. Route 66, Suite 117, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, (928) 779-0313, toll-free: (877) 602-3675, fax: (928) 773-2700.

"The new location will enable ADEQ's Northern Regional Office to better serve the people of northern Arizona," Owens said.

The new location includes room for public meetings and educational workshops, as well as additional parking and easier access.

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El Paso Natural Gas to Pay $340,000 in Penalties for Violations in Mohave County and Pima County

PHOENIX (June 28, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that El Paso Natural Gas Company (EPNG) will pay $340,000 in penalties for air quality violations in Mohave County and hazardous waste violations in Pima County.

Under a Consent Judgment with ADEQ, EPNG will pay $225,000 for asbestos violations that occurred during a pipeline renovation and removal project near Topock in Mohave County in 2004. The violations included failure to notify ADEQ prior to generating regulated asbestos-containing materials, failure to properly inspect the pipeline prior to renovation or removal activities and failure to prevent emissions.

In addition to the penalty, ADEQ previously required EPNG to clean up asbestos-containing material and surface soils at EPNG's Mohave County facility. The company has also agreed to obtain and maintain a certification in the Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act for the employees responsible for pipeline renovation or removal.

"Because exposure to asbestos can lead to significant long-term health effects, activities involving asbestos must be conducted carefully and in accordance with the law," Owens said. "The penalty reflects the serious nature of the violations that occurred during this renovation project."

EPNG will also pay $115,000 for hazardous waste violations, including transporting, accepting and storing flammable sludge, used solvent and other hazardous waste at the company's Tucson facility without the necessary permit or procedures.

ADEQ inspectors discovered the violations in 2004. "These activities were occurring without training, a contingency plan or an emergency preparedness plan," said Owens.

He added that EPNG has corrected the violations at the Mohave County and Tucson facilities and has since taken action to improve its compliance."We are pleased with the commitment that El Paso Natural Gas Company is making to environmental protection at its Arizona operations,"Owens said.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Ozone for Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25

PHOENIX (June 23, 2006) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a High Pollution Advisory for Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25 for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecast ground-level ozone concentrations expected to exceed air quality standards.

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

All Valley motorists should reduce ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute and/or reduce driving.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated and wheels aligned.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after 4 p.m.

"It is unusual to have a High Pollution Advisory on a weekend, but we are issuing this advisory because of a combination of anticipated weather conditions plus the high temperatures expected this weekend," ADEQ Director Steve Owens said.

Owens said that over the weekend, winds will come out of the east due to high pressure over southwestern Utah. East winds tend to trap ozone in the Valley and prevent it from readily escaping to the east, contributing to elevated ozone levels.

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. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and other chronic lung conditions, and inflame and damage the cells that line the lungs. Repeated short-term ozone damage to children's developing lungs may lead to reduced lung function in adulthood.

Daily air quality forecasts are on ADEQ's web site at or by calling (602) 771-2367. Those interested in receiving the air quality forecast via email can subscribe to our daily forecast list.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces $96,600 Grant to Winslow for Cleanup of "Standin' on the Corner" Site

PHOENIX (June 22, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ is awarding a $96,600 grant to the City of Winslow in Navajo County to clean up the "Standin' on the Corner" monument and reopen the park at the site.

The park and monument were closed after a fire gutted the former J.C. Penney/Rasco Building in October 2004. A mural on an exterior wall of the building is an integral part of the park, but fire damage rendered the wall unstable, making the park unsafe for visitors. Concerns about asbestos contamination in the charred rubble have prevented efforts to remove the debris and reopen the park.

Owens announced last fall that ADEQ was stepping forward to help the city clean up the asbestos contamination and get the monument and park reopened. Last week ADEQ received the results of the final necessary environmental assessment for the site, which cleared the way for ADEQ to provide the clean-up funds to Winslow and also outlined the steps needing to be taken to remove the asbestos contamination. The City of Winslow now will implement a clean-up plan with the grant funds being provided by ADEQ. ADEQ will work with the city and provide technical oversight of the clean-up.

"We have been committed to doing everything we can to help clean up this site and get the Standin' on the Corner park re-opened as soon as possible," Owens said. "We have been working closely with Mayor Affeldt and other officials on this effort and are very pleased now to provide the funds to enable the city to do that."

"This is a perfect example of local-state cooperation," said Winslow Mayor Allen Affeldt. "After a devastating fire Winslow's 'Standin' on the Corner' park was closed indefinitely. Because of environmental complications we could never clean it ourselves, so downtown Winslow appeared to be stuck with this blighted property forever. We're very grateful to Steve Owens and the great staff at ADEQ for their involvement, and look forward to this winter when visitors and guests will once again be able to 'Stand on the Corner' in Winslow, Arizona in our beautiful cleaned-up park."

ADEQ is providing the grant to Winslow using federal dollars under ADEQ's Brownfields State Response Grant program.

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ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Brins Fire near Sedona

PHOENIX (June 19, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today deployed air quality monitoring equipment in Coconino County to monitor ambient air quality around the Brins Fire burning near Sedona.

One monitor is in place at the Sedona Fire Department Station #4. Additional monitors are planned for Kachina Village and the south Flagstaff areas. Smoke is currently moving northeast, towards the areas of Mountainaire, Kachina Village and Munds Park.

The fire, which started yesterday afternoon, has consumed over 3,000 acres. Approximately 500 homes have been evacuated.

"Our monitoring equipment will enable us to keep track of any significant impact from the smoke and notify the public if it poses a risk to area residents," Owens said. "We want to make sure that we take every precaution to protect area residents from any potential health effects from the smoke."

ADEQ's air quality monitoring equipment will collect and assess data for particulate matter, a major air pollutant found in wildfire smoke.

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ADEQ Monitoring Smoke from Woody Fire in Flagstaff

PHOENIX (June 15, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today deployed air quality monitoring equipment in Coconino County to monitor ambient air quality around the Woody Fire burning in Flagstaff.

The fire, which started yesterday afternoon, has consumed about 150 acres. More than 100 homes have been evacuated.

"This monitoring equipment will enable us to keep track of any significant impact from the smoke and notify the public if it poses a risk to area residents," Owens said. "We want to make sure that we take every precaution to protect area residents from any potential health effects from the smoke."

ADEQ's air quality monitoring equipment will collect and assess data for particulate matter, a major air pollutant found in wildfire smoke.

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ADEQ Issues Revised Draft Water Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Sierrita Mine near Green Valley
Department Also Enters Groundbreaking Order to Address Sulfate Contamination

PHOENIX (June 15, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued a revised draft water quality permit for the Phelps Dodge Sierrita copper mine near Green Valley in Pima County.

Owens also announced that ADEQ and Phelps Dodge have entered into a first-of-its-kind Consent Order under the State Superfund clean-up statute - known as the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) law - that requires Phelps Dodge to mitigate the plume of sulfate contamination and protect the community's drinking water supply from further sulfate contamination.

The permit, known as an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP), protects groundwater in the area by requiring Phelps Dodge to employ pollution controls at three principle drainage areas at the mine; at discharging facilities in the mill area and tailings impoundments; and at wash stations used to clean mine haulage trucks and other vehicles.

The new permit also establishes a maximum allowable limit of 250 parts-per-million (ppm) for sulfate in drinking water affected by the mine's operations, the toughest sulfate level that ADEQ has ever included in a water quality permit.

Elevated sulfate levels attributable to the Phelps Dodge mine have been identified in groundwater samples collected from wells in the area. Although sulfate is considered a "non-hazardous" substance under federal and state law, ingestion of water containing levels of sulfate exceeding 250 ppm can cause diarrhea and other heath problems.

The Consent Order between ADEQ and Phelps Dodge represents the first time that ADEQ has ever used its authority under WQARF to require a party to deal with contamination caused by a "non-hazardous" substance such as sulfate.

"This ground-breaking order will help ensure that the drinking water supply for the community is safe from sulfate contamination," Owens said.

The Order requires Phelps Dodge to characterize and mitigate the sulfate plume, conduct an inventory of wells in the area and ensure that drinking water provided to area residents meets all applicable drinking water standards, including the 250 ppm sulfate limit established in the permit.

The Consent Order also requires Phelps Dodge to conduct quarterly water quality sampling and establish a Community Advisory Group to keep community members informed of the company's activities.

To allow the public an opportunity to review and comment on the revised draft APP, ADEQ will hold a public hearing in the Green Valley area in late July. Details regarding the time and location of the hearing will be announced soon.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Water Quality Permits for New Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bisbee

PHOENIX (June 14, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ has issued two water quality permits required for the new wastewater treatment plant in Bisbee in Cochise County.

One of the new permits is an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP), which protects the Bisbee-Naco aquifer from discharges from the treatment plant. The APP requires Bisbee to use the best available technology at the plant, including ultraviolet disinfection and aerobic sludge digesters, to protect the groundwater in the area from contamination.

The other permit is an Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) permit, which regulates and sets water quality limits on discharges from the plant into the Greenbush Draw, a tributary of the San Pedro River.

"This is an historic turning point for Bisbee," Owens said. "ADEQ and the city have worked closely together for several years to ensure that the community has a treatment system that meets the area's needs and protects precious water resources there. The water quality permits and new wastewater plant will help Bisbee deal with future growth while safeguarding water supplies in the area."

The new San Jose Wastewater Treatment Plant replaces three outdated plants that have been failing to keep pace with Bisbee's growth or maintain water quality standards, Owens noted.

The new plant has the capacity to collect and treat a maximum average monthly flow of 1.22 million gallons per day. Two old plants will be shut down completely by no later than April 2008. The third will be closed but will remain available to accommodate potential high-volume flows.

The water quality permits require that the City of Bisbee monitor pollutant levels in the effluent, groundwater and Greenbush Draw on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly schedules, depending on the pollutant. The city must report the monitoring results to ADEQ, monthly for the AZPDES permit and quarterly for the APP.

In 2001 ADEQ and Bisbee entered into a Consent Order, which placed a moratorium on sewer hookups while the city upgraded its wastewater infrastructure and built the new treatment plant. ADEQ lifted the moratorium last year because of the city's improvements to the aging collection system, allowing new construction to begin throughout Bisbee.

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Deadline for Challenge to ADEQ Air Quality Permit for Carlota Mine Passes Without Appeal

PHOENIX (June 8, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the deadline for further challenges to ADEQ's air quality permit for the Carlota Copper Company's proposed open-pit copper mine and processing facility near Miami in Gila County has expired without any additional appeals being filed.

In April the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the permit by Friends of Pinto Creek (FPC). The Court ruled that ADEQ's 2003 decision to renew Carlota's air permit was proper under both the federal Clean Air Act and the state air quality law. The deadline for filing an appeal to the Court of Appeals decision was May 24. That deadline passed without any further action filed by FPC, Owens said.

"We always have been confident that the permit would withstand any challenge, but it is good to put this matter to rest," Owens said. "This is a strong permit that not only will protect air quality in the area but also enable Carlota to move forward with its efforts to open the mine and create much-needed jobs in the Globe-Miami area."

The permit requires Carlota to 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 and particulates as well as sulfuric acid mist from the electrowinning tankhouse and volatile organic compounds from storage tanks and the solvent extraction process.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Drinking Water Treatment Project to Reopen Two Wells at State Superfund Site in Tucson

PHOENIX (June 7, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ is working with a municipal water company in northwestern Tucson to build a drinking water treatment facility and reopen two drinking water wells that have been closed for nearly a year.

ADEQ and the Flowing Wells Irrigation District in the northwestern part of Tucson have begun construction of a treatment facility to remove harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the water in the wells. Two nearby drinking water wells will be reopened once the facility becomes operational and removes the contaminants.

Flowing Wells, which serves about 15,000 customers, is located within the larger Miracle Mile Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) site, which ADEQ has been investigating for groundwater contamination. The WQARF program, also known as the state Superfund program, identifies and cleans up contaminated groundwater and soil throughout the state.

"Reopening these wells is a priority for ADEQ and great news for local residents," Owens said. "ADEQ will continue to work closely with the Flowing Wells Irrigation District to ensure that community members receive clean, safe drinking water.";

ADEQ collaborated with the water district on the design and construction of the system which is being constructed through the WQARF program. Owens noted that VOC levels in the wells are below regulatory limits and that ADEQ is taking this action to prevent VOCs from endangering human health and the environment.

Owens said construction of the facility is an important step in cleaning up the entire Miracle Mile site.

He added that in addition to removing VOCs, the treatment facility will lower arsenic levels in the water to meet the new federal drinking water standard for arsenic.

The reopened wells are scheduled to begin supplying drinking water to Flowing Wells' customers by the end of August.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Childhood Asthma Forum in Yuma on June 6

PHOENIX (June 2, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ is holding a forum on Tuesday, June 6 in Yuma to address regional issues related to children's environmental health and asthma.

ADEQ's Workshop on Regional Issues in Childhood Asthma and the Environment will focus on asthma triggers and other environmental risks to children's health in the Yuma area and ways to effectively deal with those issues. The workshop will feature presentations about the connection between environmental issues and childhood asthma, dealing with asthma in schools and children's environmental health.

"Childhood asthma continues to increase in the Yuma area and throughout Arizona," said Director Owens. "We are working hard to identify and reduce environmental risks that cause asthma attacks in children."

The workshop will take place on Tuesday, June 6 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. at the Yuma Civic and Convention Center (West Wing) located at 1440 West Desert Hills Drive in Yuma. The workshop is free and open to the public.

Workshop speakers include Governor Napolitano; Director Owens; Dr. Jose L. Munoz, Director of the San Luis Walk-In Clinic; Nohemi Ortega, Program Coordinator for the University of Arizona's Steps to a Healthier AZ program; and Shirley Rodriguez R.N., Coordinator of Health Services for Yuma Elementary School District #1.

The workshop is part of ADEQ's Children's Environmental Health Project, which was launched in 2003.

For more information about the Workshop on Regional Issues in Childhood Asthma and the Environment please contact Ward Jacox at (602) 771-2231.

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ADEQ Issues First High Pollution Advisory for Ozone

PHOENIX (June 1, 2006) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a High Pollution Advisory for Friday, June 2, for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecast ground-level ozone concentrations expected to exceed air quality standards. This is the first ozone-based High Pollution Advisory issued in 2006.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Friday 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 reduce ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • Car pool, use mass transit, walk, bicycle, telecommute and/or reduce driving.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated and wheels aligned.
  • Make arrangements to telecommute one or more days per week if possible.
  • Fill gasoline tanks after 4 p.m.

"This is the first High Pollution Advisory for ozone we have issued this year," ADEQ Director Steve Owens said."Increasing temperatures and other conditions are contributing to elevated ozone levels. We urge Valley residents to take steps to help reduce emissions that lead to the formation of ozone."

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. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and other chronic lung conditions, and inflame and damage the cells that line the lungs. Repeated short-term ozone damage to children's developing lungs may lead to reduced lung function in adulthood.

Daily air quality forecasts are on ADEQ's web site at or by calling (602) 771-2367. Those interested in receiving the air quality forecast via email can subscribe to our daily forecast list.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Draft Water Quality Permit for Resolution Copper Mine in Superior

PHOENIX (June 1, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued a draft surface water quality permit for the Resolution Copper mine in Superior in Pinal County.

The proposed permit sets standards for the discharges of treated mine water, stormwater and water from impoundments at the facility. The standards will protect surface water quality in Queen Creek and other local waterways and the wildlife those waterways support. The permit requires Resolution Copper to conduct seasonal water quality monitoring in Queen Creek to ensure compliance with the standards set in the permit.

"The draft permit will protect water quality along Queen Creek, while enabling Resolution Copper to continue to move forward with the process of opening the mine and creating much-needed jobs in the Superior area," Director Owens said.

If developed, the Resolution Copper Company mine will operate as an underground copper mine. There will be no open pits and limited waste rock piles. Exploration conducted by Resolution in 2001-2003 indicates a large copper orebody more than 7,000 feet below surface.

The draft permit is subject to public review and comment before it can be finalized. The public comment period for the proposed permit began on May 31 and will last through June 30.

Anyone wishing to provide written comments on the draft permit can mail them to: Director, Water Quality Division, ADEQ, 1110 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Mailed comments must be received by June 30, 2006.

After the public comment period closes, ADEQ will review and respond to all comments and, if needed, make any changes to the permit based on public input.

Owens added that his office has worked hard to expedite permits in rural areas, to help support economic growth, while protecting air and water quality.

The facility, formerly operated by BHP Copper, Inc., has been shut down since 1998. In May 2004, the Resolution Copper Company purchased the Superior site. Resolution Copper Company is a Limited Liability Company comprised of Rio Tinto Mining Company and BHP Mining Company.

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