Newsroom: Press Release Archive: July 2007
  • July 12, 2007: ADEQ to Host Open House on Cleanup of Former Sonoita Service Station Site in Santa Cruz County
  • July 4, 2007: ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Ozone for Thursday, July 5
  • July 2, 2007: ADEQ Director Owens Assigns New Hazardous Waste Inspectors at Border (en Español)
  • July 2, 2007: ADEQ Report Says Payson Groundwater Cleanup Is Working
  • July 2, 2007: ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Nearly $3.2 Million in Grants to Fund Low Emission School Buses in 11 School Districts in Maricopa and Pima Counties

ADEQ to Host Open House on Cleanup of Former Sonoita Service Station Site in Santa Cruz County

PHOENIX (July 12, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ will host an open house for community members interested in the status of the soil and groundwater cleanup at the former underground storage tank facility at the former Sonoita Service property on Highway 83, south of Route 82.

"We are hosting this open house to discuss our plan for cleaning up this site and to answer any questions the public might have," Director Owens said. "We want to make sure that the community is informed of our cleanup efforts."

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Santa Cruz County Building Community Room, Highway 83 South in Sonoita.

The property is now owned by Santa Cruz County. In 2005 ADEQ determined that the contaminated groundwater at the site was caused by hydrocarbons from gasoline that had leaked from two underground storage tanks that were removed from the site in 1990. The groundwater contaminant plume is contained on the property and extends fewer than 300 feet from the release point. The localized plume has not affected the regional drinking water supply. Offsite groundwater meets the Aquifer Water Quality Standards for all petroleum compounds.

ADEQ has now completed a comprehensive study of the property and has selected a method and a contractor to clean up the contaminated soil and groundwater. The cleanup will involve the injection of a combination of air and ozone into the groundwater as well as the removal of contaminant vapors from the surrounding soil.

More information is available from ADEQ at (602) 771-4321 or (800) 234-5677, and on the web.

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ADEQ Issues High Pollution Advisory for Ozone for Thursday, July 5

PHOENIX (July 4, 2007) -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a High Pollution Advisory (HPA) for the Phoenix metropolitan area due to forecast weather conditions on Thursday, July 5 expected to generate levels of ozone that may exceed the federal health standard.

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 on Thursday, and all Valley residents should reduce particulate ozone-producing emissions by taking the following steps:

  • Drive as little as possible: car pool, use mass transit or telecommute.
  • Avoid idling your vehicle.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment Refuel vehicles after 4 p.m.
  • Make sure your car's tires are properly inflated and your wheels are aligned.
  • Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling up your car or gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent gases from evaporating into the air.
  • Dispose of containers properly.

Daily air quality forecasts are located on ADEQ's web site or by telephone at (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 Assigns New Hazardous Waste Inspectors at Border

PHOENIX (July 2, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ will be launching an effort to inspect shipments of hazardous waste coming from Mexico into Arizona at Arizona's three ports of entry in Nogales, San Luis and Douglas, the state's busiest crossings from Mexico.

Owens said that the state budget recently signed by Governor Napolitano provides funding for ADEQ to hire three full-time hazardous waste inspectors to review waste shipments coming into Arizona from Mexico to ensure they are being transported safely in accordance with all requirements of state and federal law. ADEQ will post an inspector at each border crossing where the waste shipments are likely to occur.

"No one at either the federal or state level is inspecting hazardous waste shipments coming into Arizona from Mexico," Director Owens said. "We are pleased that we got the funding to perform this critical task." ADEQ had unsuccessfully sought funding for the inspectors last year from the Arizona legislature.

Under federal law, U.S.-owned manufacturing plants in Mexico, known as maquiladoras, are required to dispose of their waste in the United States. Federal law also permits other companies to bring their waste into the United States for disposal. Because Arizona has no hazardous waste disposal facilities, any waste coming across the border will ultimately end up in other states for disposal.

The ADEQ inspectors will check Mexican hazardous waste shipments for compliance with applicable hazardous waste laws; track the amount, types and final destination of hazardous wastes; ensure that shipments are destined for facilities authorized to accept the waste; and ensure that the wastes are being securely shipped.

"Having full-time inspectors at the border crossings will help ensure that any waste coming into Arizona from Mexico is being transported through our state safely, legally and securely," Owens said.

Owens noted that episodes involving waste shipments at the border in previous years underlay ADEQ's desire to have inspectors at the border. In 2004 at the Otay Mesa port of entry in California, opposite Tijuana, three companies shipped two loads of sludge that burst into flames, one at port and one on the open road near San Diego. And in 2005 a shipment of furniture fumigated with a powerful pesticide was intercepted that could have exposed Customs officials in Nogales to levels of the chemical 50 times higher than U.S. law allows.

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ADEQ Report Says Payson Groundwater Cleanup Is Working
ADEQ Has Spent $10.7 Million on the Cleanup to Date

PHOENIX (July 2, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced today that ADEQ has issued its formal Record of Decision (ROD) on the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) site in the Town of Payson. The ROD, a report that evaluates the approach being taken to clean up the site, concludes that the cleanup is proceeding successfully and that ADEQ should continue to implement the process until the groundwater in the area is free of contamination.

"This report is very good news for Payson," Director Owens said. "It shows that what we have been doing is working well and that the groundwater is being cleaned up."

The groundwater at the 110-acre site is contaminated with tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), known carcinogens that reached the groundwater from a former dry-cleaning facility. The contamination was first discovered in the groundwater in the area in 1990. After conducting an extensive investigation into the contamination that included several early response actions, ADEQ officially added the site to Arizona's Superfund list in 1998.

The cleanup process being used involves pumping groundwater from the site and sending it through two 20,000-pound granulated activated carbon filters that remove the contaminants. After the groundwater is cleaned, it is used as part of the town's drinking water supply. The treated water entering the drinking water supply has been free of detectable levels of PCE and TCE since the operation began in 1998.

The system, which is operated by the Town of Payson, delivers about 200 gallons each minute to the Town of Payson drinking water supply and currently provides about 35 percent of the water supply for Payson, which depends completely on groundwater.

ADEQ has spent $10.7 million to date to clean up the site since it was added to the WQARF program. The ROD estimates that completely cleaning up the groundwater in the area may take up to another 25 years and could cost between $10 million-11 million more. If so, the total cleanup costs for the Payson WQARF site could exceed $21 million.

"This is an expensive cleanup," Director Owens said, "but it is worth every penny of it to make sure that the citizens of Payson will continue to have safe, clean drinking water. We are absolutely committed to this cleanup."

The Payson WQARF site is bounded by Frontier Street to the north, the Beeline Highway (State Route 87) to the east, Aero Drive to the south and McLane Road to the west in Payson.

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ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces Nearly $3.2 Million in Grants to Fund Low Emission School Buses in 11 School Districts in Maricopa and Pima Counties

PHOENIX (July 2, 2007) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director (ADEQ) Steve Owens today announced that 11 school districts in Maricopa and Pima Counties have been awarded $3,177,000 in grants by ADEQ to improve air quality and reduce children's exposure to harmful diesel emissions from school buses.

The grant will enable the districts to obtain less-polluting school buses and new pollution control equipment for their current fleets.

The school districts receiving the grants are participating in ADEQ's voluntary School Bus Idling Program, under which school districts reduce diesel emissions by limiting bus idling near schools. A total of 158 school districts around the state in each of Arizona's 15 counties participate in the School Bus Idling Program.

The districts were eligible for grants of up to $35,000 toward the purchase of a new compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) school bus; up to $15,000 toward the purchase of a new school bus equipped to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and equipped with a diesel particulate filter; and up to $8,000 to retrofit used school buses with diesel particulate filters to enable them to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

"These grants will help protect children from exposure to harmful diesel emissions while helping the school districts afford new low-polluting school buses and technology," Director Owens said. "We are pleased to partner with these school districts in this very important effort and congratulate them for their commitment to protecting the air that our children breathe every day."

The grant awards to each district are:

Maricopa County

  • Chandler Unified #80: $556,818 for 32 new diesel buses with filters and 9 filters for installation in existing diesel buses.
  • Scottsdale Unified School District: $269,514 for 29 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Phoenix Union High School: $240,000 for 16 new diesel buses with filters.
  • Gilbert Unified School District #41: $49,730 for 21 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Cave Creek Unified School District: $91,140 for 11 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Glendale Union High School: $177,072 for 20 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Agua Fria Union H.S. district #216: $57,288 for 6 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Phoenix Elementary School District #1: $31,248 for 4 filters for existing diesel buses.

Pima County

  • Tucson Unified: $1,369,144 for 11 CNG buses, 42 new diesel buses and 38 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Amphitheater Unified Public School District #10 (Tucson): $82,026 for 10 filters for existing diesel buses.
  • Continental Elementary School District (Green Valley):$153,020 for 4 CNG buses and 2 filters for existing diesel buses.

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