Newsroom: Press Release Archive: March 2006
  • March 30, 2006: Ozone Season Under Way
  • March 28, 2006: ADEQ Unveils GIS Web Page for Environmental Information in Communities
  • March 21, 2006: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Names Mel Taylor of Graham County New Community Liaison for Southeastern Arizona
  • March 20, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Settlement Totaling $166,637 with Heritage Environmental Services in Pinal County
  • March 17, 2006: ADEQ Cites Far West Water & Sewer for Water Quality Violations at Six Facilities in Yuma County
  • March 16, 2006: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces $40,000 Penalty against Earth Protection Services, Inc. for Hazardous Waste Violations
  • March 14, 2006: ADEQ Orders Far West Water and Sewer Company To Correct Water Quality Violations
  • March 14, 2006: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Recycling Scholarship Recipients
  • March 9, 2006: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for PM10 Particulates for Phoenix Metro Area for Friday, March 10

Ozone Season Under Way

PHOENIX (March 30, 2006) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, Valley Metro and Maricopa Association of Governments today announced the start of the summer Clean Air Campaign, which calls on Valley residents and businesses to limit their use of automobiles to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, a colorless odorless gas that is harmful to the human respiratory system.

Ground-level ozone is produced by the intense heating of chemical compounds and vehicle exhaust emissions during the summer months. Bright sunlight, high temperatures, traffic congestion and the surrounding mountains create perfect conditions for the formation of ground-level ozone pollution in the Valley.

Children, senior citizens and those with respiratory illnesses are considered most at risk from exposure to ground-level ozone pollution. These individuals can experience chest pain and coughing when exposed to relatively low ozone levels during periods of moderate exertion.

"Contributing to clean air is everyone';s responsibility," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "By working together to reduce driving and limit other pollution sources in the Valley during the summer months, we can limit the harmful effects of ozone on our children and families."

Taking steps to reduce or eliminate single occupant vehicle trips when an Ozone High Pollution Advisory has been issued is crucial to avoid violations of federal air quality standards.

Other steps Valley residents and businesses can take to reduce ozone-forming emissions are:

  • Minimizing the use of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment during daylight hours, and being careful not to spill fuel.
  • Waiting to fuel vehicles in the cooler evening hours.
  • Making sure your vehicle's tires are properly inflated and the wheels aligned.
  • Participating in your local utility's energy conservation programs.
  • Sealing containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent vapors from escaping

Valley employers contribute to cleaner air through their participation in Maricopa County's Trip Reduction Program, which asks employers to reduce the number of vehicles driven to work when ozone concentrations are expected to exceed air quality standards. Throughout the summer, ADEQ will continue to issue weekly and daily air quality forecasts to advise those in sensitive groups, the general public and the news media about forecasted ozone concentrations. These forecasts, along with a map of the monitoring network, are available on ADEQ's web site or by telephone at (602) 771-2367.

A High Pollution Advisory is issued when pollution levels are expected to exceed unhealthy levels. High Pollution Advisories encourage people to limit outdoor activity, and reduce driving and other activities that cause air pollution. A High Pollution Advisory also alerts businesses, Valley Metro and other agencies to implement their trip reduction plans.

Valley Metro has an online rideshare matching system to ease the process of finding a carpool or vanpool. 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. Those looking for more information regarding Rideshare can contact Valley Metro at (602) 262-7433 (RIDE).

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ADEQ Unveils GIS Web Page for Environmental Information in Communities

PHOENIX (March 28, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) Web page providing environmental data and information on facilities and sites throughout Arizona.

A link to the GIS page is now available from ADEQ's web site. The system allows users to have access to information about facilities and cleanup sites in Arizona within ADEQ's jurisdiction. The page features information from ADEQ's program divisions - Air Quality, Tank Programs, Waste Programs and Water Quality.

"Our goal is to provide access to a large amount of important environmental information," said Director Owens. "Arizonans now have an easy way to learn more about the environmental sites and facilities in their communities."

GIS is computer software that links geographic information with descriptive information, allowing the user to see not only where things are, but precisely what they are as well. Unlike a flat paper map, a GIS can present many layers of different information. For example, parents could easily determine which ADEQ-permitted facilities are located near their children's schools, find recycling centers nearby and learn about cleanup sites in their area, all from their desktop computer.

For more information please see our Interactive GIS eMaps Page.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Names Mel Taylor of Graham County New Community Liaison for Southeastern Arizona

PHOENIX (March 21, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that he has named Graham County resident Mel Taylor as ADEQ's new Community Liaison for southeastern Arizona beginning March 27.

Taylor, who lives in Thatcher in Graham County, will assist residents, businesses and government officials in Graham, Greenlee and Cochise Counties with obtaining information about ADEQ programs and activities, as well as matters involving state and federal environmental laws and regulations. As Community Liaison, Taylor will be ADEQ's on the ground representative in southeastern Arizona.

Taylor will be based in Safford in Graham County.

"Mel's well established community relationships and familiarity with southeastern Arizona make him a great addition to ADEQ," Owens said. "Mel will help us ensure that the department continues to be responsive to the community's needs. We are delighted that Mel is joining us."

Taylor brings 30 years' experience in business management and customer relations to ADEQ. A successful restaurateur, Taylor most recently has been working with the Thatcher Unified School District. Taylor also previously served on the Graham County Planning and Zoning Board.

Taylor fills the position recently left vacant when ADEQ's former Community Liaison, Sue Keith, was named Director of ADEQ's Southern Regional Office in Tucson.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Settlement Totaling $166,637 with Heritage Environmental Services in Pinal County

PHOENIX (March 20, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced a settlement totaling $166,637 with Heritage Environmental Services, LLC, a hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal company, for violations at its Coolidge facility.

ADEQ's Hazardous Waste Inspections and Compliance Unit conducted inspections of Heritage Environmental Services in January 2002 and February 2003 that resulted in Notices of Violations being issued to the company for failing to have a fire suppression system with adequate volume and pressure. Water pressure and volume were so low that any fire would have been uncontrollable, thus putting the surrounding residential community at risk. ADEQ issued a compliance order in May 2003, and Heritage installed an adequate fire suppression system in early 2004.

Pursuant to the settlement, Heritage will pay a $35,000 cash penalty and implement a local Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) with two components, totaling $131,637.

As part of its SEP, Heritage will conduct at least three household hazardous waste collection events in Pinal County, totaling $75,114. The collection events will be in addition to those which Heritage committed to previously.

The other part of the SEP will be an improvement to Heritage's fire suppression system totaling $56,523 which will increase volume and pressure such that the Coolidge Fire Department will be able to utilize the system in the event of a fire at a neighboring property, specifically the local community center.

"The violations involved in this case could have had extremely serious consequences for the surrounding community if a fire had broken out at the facility," Owens said. "It is extremely important to have an adequate fire suppression system to protect the health and safety of the people living nearby. Additionally, the SEPs will provide the Coolidge community with an improved household hazardous waste collection program, as well as increased safety from fire at the Heritage facility."

The settlement is subject to final approval by Maricopa County Superior Court.

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ADEQ Cites Far West Water & Sewer for Water Quality Violations at Six Facilities in Yuma County

PHOENIX (March 17, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has cited Far West Water and Sewer Company for water quality violations at six of the company's wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Yuma County. These citations are in addition to the violations at Far West's Del Oro facility, for which ADEQ recently entered a Consent Order against Far West.

The six facilities and violations include:

  • Marwood WWTP - Exceedance of fecal coliform limit; Exceedance of turbidity limits; Odors emanating from the facility
  • Section 14 WWTP - Exceedance of total nitrogen limits; Odors emanating from the facility
  • Palm Shadows WWTP - Exceedance of total nitrogen limits
  • Seasons WWTP - Operating facility without a groundwater protection permit
  • Villa Royal WWTP - Providing effluent for reuse without a permit
  • Del Rey WWTP - Illegal discharge of effluent without a groundwater protection permit; Providing effluent for reuse without a permit

Fecal coliform is a bacteria the presence of which indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headache or other symptoms. The microbes can also pose a significant health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system.

"Far West's facilities have significant operational problems that must be corrected," said Director Owens. "These are serious violations of the law."

Far West faces potential civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day for its violations of state environmental laws.

Last week, ADEQ entered a Consent Order against Far West for water quality violations at the company's Del Oro wastewater treatment facility. The Order requires Far West to limit flows at the Del Oro facility, control odors emanating from the plants and install a new, larger wastewater treatment plant by Aug. 31, 2007. The Order also prohibits Far West from allowing any additional hookup to its wastewater system until the company has demonstrated adequate capacity and received approval from ADEQ.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces $40,000 Penalty against Earth Protection Services, Inc. for Hazardous Waste Violations

PHOENIX (March 16, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced a $40,000 penalty against Earth Protection Services, Inc. (EPSI), a company that recycles discarded mercury-containing lamps, for hazardous waste violations at the company's former Phoenix facility at 48th Ave. and Van Buren.

During a November 2002 inspection, ADEQ discovered that EPSI was improperly handling and storing hazardous waste, failing to adequately train new employees and allowing a leak of mercury-laden phosphor powder to threaten employee safety.

ADEQ issued a Notice of Violation to EPSI and initiated enforcement action against the company, resulting in the $40,000 penalty.

"These were very serious violations involving hazardous waste," Owens said. "Companies that deal with hazardous materials must follow the law."

EPSI has ceased operations at the 48th Ave. location and now operates a new recycling facility in Glendale.

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ADEQ Orders Far West Water and Sewer Company To Correct Water Quality Violations

PHOENIX (March 14, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has entered a Consent Order against Far West Water and Sewer Company for water quality violations at the company's Del Oro wastewater treatment facility in Yuma County.

Under the Order, Far West is required to take a number of actions to ensure that the Del Oro facility operates in compliance with the law. Far West recently re-opened an older 70,000 gallon-per-day (gpd) treatment plant to handle excess flows after the company's newer 150,000 gpd plant was unable to handle the volume of wastewater generated by the community. The newer plant';s lack of capacity resulted in wastewater being improperly treated and foul odors emanating from the plant.

ADEQ's Order requires Far West to limit flows at the older plant to 50,000 gpd and cease operating the older plant by Oct. 31, 2007. Far West must bring a third 50,000 gpd wastewater treatment plant online at the Del Oro site by May 31 of this year to adequately handle and treat influent wastewater flows. The company further must install and operate a new, larger wastewater treatment plant by Aug. 31, 2007.

In addition, the Order requires Far West to prevent odors from impacting nearby residents, perform weekly water quality monitoring and submit weekly reports to ADEQ to ensure compliance with water quality standards. Finally, Far West is prohibited from allowing any additional hookups to its system until the company has demonstrated adequate treatment capacity and received approval from ADEQ.

Last month ADEQ inspectors found that Far West's Del Oro Wastewater Treatment Plant was improperly discharging pathogen-laden effluent to a nearby golf course and operating without the required environmental permits. The company also failed to control odor emissions from the Del Oro Plant. ADEQ issued a Notice of Violation to Far West for these violations.

"This Order will ensure that Far West operates the Del Oro facility in accordance with the law and in a manner that properly serves residents in the area," Owens said. "We will be monitoring Far West's operations very closely."

Far West faces potential administrative penalties of up to $5,000 per day per violation if they violate the terms of the Order. Far West also faces potential civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day for its violations of state environmental laws.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Recycling Scholarship Recipients

PHOENIX (March 14, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has awarded eight scholarships under the department's Recycling Scholarship Program to the following Arizona high school seniors:

  • Chris Gast, Basha High School (Chandler)
  • Megan Lorenzen, Ironwood High School (Glendale)
  • Ava Majkrzak, Washington High School (Phoenix)
  • Samantha Mion, Prescott High School (Prescott)
  • Norianne Pimentel, Cibola High School (Yuma)
  • Eric Rosas, Palo Verde High School (Tucson)
  • Brent Sherman, Benson High School (Benson)
  • Cody Watson, Prescott High School (Prescott)

Each of these students will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used for expenses at a college or university in Arizona. The scholarship recipients were selected by ADEQ based on the proposals they submitted to ADEQ outlining a waste reduction or recycling project in their school or community that they will implement during April 2006, when Earth Day is celebrated.

"The purpose of this innovative scholarship program is to encourage Arizona students to think about ways to protect the environment while helping them meet the escalating costs of college," Director Owens said. "These eight high school seniors came up with some terrific ideas for recycling projects."

Owens said ADEQ developed the scholarship program to encourage school recycling activities throughout the state. The scholarship program is funded by the ADEQ Recycling Grant Program.

Owens added that while the scholarship program is being started on a pilot basis with eight scholarships awarded this year, the number of scholarships might be increased in future years depending on the level of interest among students and the quality of proposals submitted. "We are very pleased with this year's results," he said.

Information about the scholarship program is available on ADEQ's web site.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for PM10 Particulates for Phoenix Metro Area for Friday, March 10

PHOENIX (March 9, 2006) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a High Pollution Advisory (HPA) for Friday, March 10 due to forecast weather conditions expected to generate levels of coarse particulate matter (PM10) that could exceed unhealthy levels in the Phoenix metro area.

Friday's forecast marks the 25th High Pollution Advisory of the 2005-2006 winter season.

"Except for brief showers in the northern Valley yesterday, the Phoenix metro area has had 142 consecutive days without rain," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "While the recent breezy conditions gave the Valley a brief break from air quality problems, a winter storm approaching from the northwest could blow significant levels of dust into the air, resulting in the issuance of this advisory. During a High Pollution Advisory, air pollution levels could exceed unhealthy levels. Therefore, we advise people to limit outdoor activity."

To help reduce PM10 particulate levels, ADEQ is urging people to limit driving, use the bus, carpool, telecommute and reduce dust-generating activities where possible. A HPA also alerts businesses to implement their travel reduction plans.

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

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