Newsroom: Press Release Archive: May 2006
  • May 31, 2006: ADEQ Issues Draft Air Quality Permit Renewal for Arizona Clean Fuels Refinery in Yuma County
  • May 18, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Water Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Mine near Safford
  • May 17, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Scottsdale Is First City to Join Arizona Performance Track Program
  • May 12, 2006: ADEQ Introduces Children's Environmental Web Site
  • May 11, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Intel and Ping as First Companies to Join Arizona Performance Track
  • May 10, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Awards $280,300 in Grants to the Gila Watershed Partnership for Water Quality Improvement Projects in Eastern Arizona
  • May 9, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Awards $102,160 Grant to the Hualapai Tribe for Water Quality Improvement Projects
  • May 8, 2006: ADEQ to Hold Working Summit on Tribal Environmental Issues
  • May 8, 2006: Governor Vetoes Bill that Sought to Weaken ADEQ Rule on Toxic Air Pollutants
  • May 4, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces Draft Air Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Mine in Safford
  • May 1, 2006: ADEQ Director Owens Announces that Douglas Meets the Federal Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

ADEQ Issues Draft Air Quality Permit Renewal for Arizona Clean Fuels Refinery in Yuma County

PHOENIX (May 31, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has issued a draft renewal of the air quality permit for the Arizona Clean Fuels (ACF) refinery proposed near Tacna in Yuma County.

ADEQ issued an air quality permit for the refinery last year. Under Arizona law, ACF has 18 months - until November 2006 - to commence construction of the refinery or the permit lapses. Earlier this year ACF advised ADEQ that the company would be unable to commence construction by the deadline, and the company applied for a renewal of the current permit. Under the proposed permit renewal, ACF would be required to commence construction of the refinery within 18 months of the permit's effective date, which would mean that the new 18-month period would end during April or May 2008, depending on when the renewed permit is finalized. It would put the same strict limits on potential emissions from the refinery as the current permit. Like the current permit, the renewed permit would be good for five years.

"We are really just reissuing the same permit we issued last year," ADEQ Director Owens said. "It is still the toughest air quality permit ever crafted for a refinery."

The refinery would be located on approximately 1,450-acres near Tacna and could produce approximately 150,000 barrels per day of motor fuels, including approximately 85,000 barrels per day of motor gasoline, 35,000 barrels per day of diesel fuel and 30,000 barrels per day of jet fuel.

ADEQ will hold a public hearing on the air quality permit renewal on Thursday, July 6, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellton Elementary School, 29126 East San Jose Avenue in Wellton.

Materials related to the permit, including the application, ADEQ's analysis and the draft permit are available for review at the Wellton Town Clerk's Office, 28634 Oakland Avenue in Wellton, and at the Yuma City Clerk's Office, 1 City Plaza in Yuma.

The public comment period on the draft permit renewal will close Thursday, July 6, 2006. Written comments concerning this draft permit should be directed to Director, Air Quality Division, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, 1110 W. Washington St., 3415A-1, Phoenix, AZ 85007-2935.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Water Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Mine near Safford

PHOENIX (May 18, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued the remaining water quality permit for the Phelps Dodge copper mine near Safford in Graham County.

The facility, which will operate as an open-pit copper mine, is estimated to have an 18-year operating life and produce approximately 961 million tons of ore and development rock.

The permit, known as an aquifer protection permit, protects groundwater in the area by regulating discharges from the operations at the mine including two open pits, reprocessing of existing stockpiles on the San Juan property, one heap leach pad, one process solution pond, one non-stormwater pond, one evaporation pond, a solvent extraction/electrowinning process plant and other infrastructure and support facilities associated with copper mining.

The permit sets water quality standards and reduces the discharge of pollutants by requiring Phelps Dodge to employ appropriate engineering controls and processes at the areas covered by the permit including the heap leach pad, the excess process solution impoundment, the non-stormwater impoundment and the San Juan evaporation impoundment. The permit also requires Phelps Dodge to conduct quarterly monitoring to ensure that water quality has not been negatively impacted by operations at the mine.

"This is a strong water quality permit that will protect groundwater in the area, while enabling Phelps Dodge to continue moving forward toward beginning construction of the mine in July as planned," Director Owens said. "Issuance of this permit is another step toward creating much-needed jobs in the Safford area while also safeguarding precious water resources."

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.

Earlier this month, Owens announced that ADEQ has issued the draft air quality permit for the mine near Safford. A hearing on that draft permit is scheduled for Thursday, May 25 at the Safford City Hall Annex, 808 S. 8th Avenue in Safford at 6:30 p.m. Owens said that barring any unforeseen issues, he anticipates final issuance of the air quality permit to Phelps Dodge before July 1.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Scottsdale Is First City to Join Arizona Performance Track Program

PHOENIX (May 17, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the City of Scottsdale has joined the Arizona Performance Track program, a voluntary partnership between ADEQ, businesses and other regulated entities that recognizes and rewards environmental leadership for going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the law.

Scottsdale is being recognized for committing to add 1,200 acres of land and habitat to the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve, an increase of more than 10 percent to the 11,000 acres the city has previously purchased or preserved, and for reducing non-transportation energy use by installing more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

Scottsdale also committed to use biodiesel in the city's fleet of diesel vehicles, which will help reduce particulate matter air pollution; to replenish the underground aquifer with treated effluent; and to construct future buildings to conform to the energy-efficient Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard.

"We are delighted to have Scottsdale join our Arizona Performance Track Program," Owens said. "Scottsdale deserves recognition for its commitment to the environment."

The Arizona Performance Track is modeled after a national EPA program. Benefits of participating in the Arizona Performance Track include reduced inspection frequency, flexibility of permit conditions and consolidation of reporting requirements. In order to be eligible for the program, a regulated entity must demonstrate a history of compliance, a comprehensive environmental management system and a pollution prevention program in addition to performing two past and four future projects with quantifiable environmental benefits.

Scottsdale is the first municipality to join the Arizona Performance Track and is also the only municipality that is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency's Performance Track.

"Scottsdale is a real leader in environmental protection," Owens added. "We look forward to other Arizona communities joining the Arizona Performance Track Program in the future."

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ADEQ Introduces Children's Environmental Web Site

PHOENIX (May 12, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has created a new environmental education and information Web site focused on the interests of Arizona youth.

Called EnviroKids Canyon, the new child-friendly animated site is designed for elementary school-aged children, and provides environmental education through interactive games and graphics. Topics discussed on the site include water conservation, air quality, school bus idling, recycling and other topics, as well as information for parents and teachers.

"Our goal is to provide a fun, informative Web site for kids to learn about the environment and things that affect them," said Director Owens. "Arizona's children care about protecting our environment and this Web site helps them explore a whole range of topics."

Owens added that ADEQ will be adding to and updating the Web site as the department receives feedback from children who use the site. "We want to make the site as interesting, fun and easy to use as we can," he said.

For more information please visit Arizona EnviroKids.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Intel and Ping as First Companies to Join Arizona Performance Track

PHOENIX (May 11, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens today announced the first two Arizona companies to join the Arizona Performance Track program, a voluntary partnership between ADEQ, businesses and other regulated entities that recognizes and rewards environmental leadership for going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the law.

The two inaugural company members of Arizona Performance Track are:

  • Intel Arizona's Ocotillo Campus in Chandler, which manufactures semiconductors, aims to reduce non-hazardous solid waste generated by 21 percent, or 1,500 tons annually, and thereby save 70 million gallons of water. The company also reduced use of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and committed to reduce VOC use further.
  • Ping, Inc., in Phoenix, which designs, manufactures and services golf clubs and other golfing equipment, has already reduced water usage by 3 million gallons per year and hazardous waste generation by almost 40,000 pounds per year. They have also committed to reducing air particulate emissions by 16 percent and to further reducing materials use and non-hazardous waste generation.

"The Arizona Performance Track program is a win-win program, which provides benefits to participants in recognition of their commitment to environmental protection," Owens said. "The program not only encourages companies to be good environmental stewards, it also allows ADEQ to protect public health and the environment more effectively by focusing our resources on facilities and entities that need the most attention."

The Arizona Performance Track is modeled after a national EPA program. Benefits of participating in the Arizona Performance Track include reduced inspection frequency, flexibility of permit conditions and consolidation of reporting requirements. In order to be eligible for the program, a company must demonstrate a history of compliance, a comprehensive environmental management system and a pollution prevention program in addition to performing two past and four future projects with quantifiable environmental benefits.

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ADEQ Director Owens Awards $280,300 in Grants to the Gila Watershed Partnership for Water Quality Improvement Projects in Eastern Arizona

PHOENIX (May 10, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has awarded $280,300 in grants to the Gila Watershed Partnership to fund two water quality improvement projects in Graham and Greenlee Counties.

The first project, funded in the amount of $110,500, will begin the cleanup of an illegal dumpsite along the north side of the Gila River and in the river near Eden in Graham County. The illegal dumpsite contains an estimated 6,000 tons of garbage. The debris and garbage contain hazardous materials as well as oil and grease. There is significant runoff into the Gila River during and after rainfall events, as well as an even greater threat of tons of debris entering the river during a flood event.

The second project, funded in the amount of $169,800, will preserve, protect and improve water quality by reducing sediment discharge and excess organic input to the San Francisco River near Clifton in Greenlee County. Practices that will be implemented include extending and improving road drainage, adding sediment collection boxes and ditches, and a sediment retaining wall to prevent further contamination of the San Francisco River. The project also includes an education and outreach effort to inform and educate the community.

"These funds will help the Gila Watershed Partnership protect precious water resources by addressing illegal dumping along the Gila River, as well as continue the ongoing work protecting the San Francisco River," Director Owens said. "We have been working closely with the Gila Watershed Partnership for several years, and we are pleased to continue to support the work of the Partnership as they undertake these extremely important local efforts."

The grant is funded with federal dollars provided to ADEQ under the Clean Water Act.

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ADEQ Director Owens Awards $102,160 Grant to the Hualapai Tribe for Water Quality Improvement Projects

PHOENIX (May 9, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has awarded a $102,160 grant to the Hualapai Tribe to fund two water quality improvement projects.

The grant supports two projects within the Hualapai Tribe: bank stabilization at Spencer Beach, and installation of a composting restroom at the Hualapai Helipad.

The first project, funded in the amount of $50,000, will stabilize the banks surrounding the composting restroom at Spencer Beach along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Currently, the restrooms are being threatened by erosion. This project will prevent future loss of the restroom and potential contamination of the Colorado River.

The second project, funded in the amount of $52,160, will install a composting restroom at the helipad landing area located next to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Currently, there are no restrooms in the vicinity for tourists to use before leaving on Grand Canyon river boat tours. As a consequence, human waste is being deposited along the nearby vegetation which eventually makes it the Colorado River.

"These funds will help protect the Colorado River and the watershed, as well as other precious natural resources in the area," Director Owens said. "We are pleased to work with the Hualapai Tribe to help ensure clean water in the Colorado River now and for future generations."

The grant is funded with federal dollars provided to ADEQ under the Clean Water Act.

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ADEQ to Hold Working Summit on Tribal Environmental Issues

PHOENIX (May 8, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ is holding a "Working Summit" on tribal environmental issues on Tuesday, May 9 in Phoenix.

The work session will follow up on Governor Napolitano's Tribal Summit on Environmental Issues, held last November, and will address the ways that ADEQ can work more closely with tribes to protect environmental conditions on reservations lands. The agenda includes issues relating to air quality, waste disposal, water quality and underground storage tanks, as well as joint inspections, and enforcement and compliance issues between ADEQ and the tribes.

Representatives from several individual tribes, including the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Gila River Indian Community, the Hualapai Tribe, the Navajo Nation, the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Fort Mojave and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, plus the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona will attend the work session.

"ADEQ has developed a very close working relationship with tribes, and this working summit will help identify ways for ADEQ and the sovereign tribes to work even more closely together," Owens said. "Because pollution does not respect political or jurisdictional boundaries, it is extremely important that ADEQ and the tribes join hands as often as we can to protect Arizona's environment and the health and safety of the people of this state."

Tribes seeking more information about the Tribal Environmental Working Summit should contact ADEQ's Tribal Liaison, Brian Davidson, at (602) 771-4881.

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Governor Vetoes Bill that Sought to Weaken ADEQ Rule on Toxic Air Pollutants

PHOENIX (May 8, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that Governor Napolitano recently vetoed SB1356, an attempt to undermine ADEQ's recently-approved rule regulating emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in Arizona.

ADEQ's rule on HAPs was unanimously approved by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council on April 4. Industry lobbyists opposed to the rule had backed SB1356 in an effort to force ADEQ to redo its rule. The bill, which was narrowly approved by the Legislature, was strongly opposed by ADEQ, the public health community and groups concerned about air quality.

Under Arizona law, ADEQ was supposed to have developed a rule regulating emissions of HAPs in Arizona by November 1993. ADEQ's effort to issue a HAPs rule by that deadline failed due to opposition from industry lobbyists, however, as did subsequent efforts in the 1990s.

"For the last twelve years, Arizonans have been exposed to tons of toxic air pollutants that should have been regulated," Owens said. "This much-needed rule is long-overdue, and Arizona's children and families should not have to wait any longer for protection from these dangerous pollutants."

HAPs are toxic substances emitted into the air by industrial sources that can cause serious adverse health effects, including organ and nervous system damage, respiratory problems, genetic disorders, cancer, other serious illnesses and even death. Examples of HAPs emitted by industrial sources in Arizona include benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, trichloroethylene, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, vinyl chloride and other toxic substances.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces Draft Air Quality Permit for Phelps Dodge Mine in Safford

PHOENIX (May 4, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that ADEQ has issued a draft air quality permit for the Phelps Dodge copper mine near Safford in Graham County.

The facility, which will operate as an open-pit copper mine, is estimated to have an 18-year operating life and produce approximately 961 million tons of ore and development rock.

The proposed permit will regulate emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and sulfuric acid mist from the mine and the associated mineral crusher, extraction facility and leach pad.

"The draft permit will protect air quality in the area, while enabling Phelps Dodge to continue moving forward toward opening the mine and creating much-needed jobs in the Safford area," Director Owens said.

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 April 23 and will last through May 25. A public hearing will be held on Thursday, May 25 at the Safford City Hall Annex, 808 S. 8th Avenue in Safford at 6:30 p.m. where anyone wishing to speak on the draft permit can do so.

Anyone wishing to provide written comments on the draft permit can submit them at the public hearing or mail them to: Director, Air Quality Division, ADEQ, 1110 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Mailed comments must be received by May 25.

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 said that ADEQ anticipates issuing the final permit by July 1 at the latest.

"We put this permit on a fast-track," Owens said. "Phelps Dodge has said that it wants to begin construction on the project in July, and barring any unforeseen developments, they should be able to do that."

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.

A copy of the draft Phelps Dodge permit is available at the Safford City Clerk's Office, 717 Main Street, Safford, AZ 85446.

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ADEQ Director Owens Announces that Douglas Meets the Federal Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

PHOENIX (May 1, 2006) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the City of Douglas and surrounding area in Cochise County has achieved attainment status for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The attainment status, designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effective today, means that Douglas is in compliance with the federal air quality standard for sulfur dioxide. The designation also means that new or expanding businesses in the Douglas area can operate more cost-effectively due to less-stringent requirements and regulations.

"This is great news for Douglas and the surrounding area," Owens said. "With this designation, the federal government officially recognizes that air quality in the Douglas area has improved substantially."

Douglas was declared a nonattainment area in 1978 but has had no sulfur dioxide exceedances since 1986. The major source of sulfur dioxide in Douglas was the Phelps-Dodge Reduction Works smelter, which closed in 1987.

Owens said that he has made obtaining the attainment designation for Douglas and other areas in the state a priority.

"This decision by EPA was long-overdue, but we are glad that EPA finally agreed with us that the Douglas area meets the air quality standard," Owens said.

Owens pointed out that ADEQ performed the air quality modeling that was necessary to satisfy EPA data requirements and worked with officials in Mexico to supply needed air quality data for a manufacturing plant located across the border to assure EPA that the federal standard has been met.

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