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Newsroom: Press Release Archive: February 2003
  • Feb. 26, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Orders Closure of IWU Facility
  • Feb. 14, 2003: ADEQ to Host Regional Haze Public Workshop
  • Feb. 13, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Confirms Gold Canyon Wastewater Treatment Facility Plans to Deal with Odor
  • Feb. 12, 2003: ADEQ Director Owens Praises NADBank
  • Funding for Border Air Quality Project
  • Feb. 10, 2003: Owens Announces ADEQ Plan to Help Water Systems Comply with New Federal Standard for Arsenic in Drinking Water

ADEQ Director Owens Orders Closure of IWU Facility

PHOENIX (Feb. 26, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today used his regulatory authority to order the closure of Innovative Waste Utilization, LLC, a hazardous waste operation based in Phoenix accused of illegally shipping hazardous substances.

Tuesday a drug enforcement task force, made up of federal, state and local law enforcement officials, made a number of arrests at the facility.

"Based on information we have received and reports from our ADEQ personnel on the scene, I am taking action using ADEQ's regulatory authority to protect the public interest by ordering IWU to immediately cease its operations at this facility," Owens said.

This afternoon, the corporation was served papers notifying them that ADEQ is taking three specific actions.

First, ADEQ suspended the facility's hazardous waste permit effective immediately. The facility is no longer legally authorized to accept any hazardous waste.

Second, ADEQ revoked the facility's hazardous waste permit, requiring the facility to close its operations permanently. This action is subject to an appeal within 30 days, but during the appeals process, the facility will remain closed because its permit has been suspended by ADEQ.

Third, ADEQ issued a compliance order to govern the safe handling and disposal of all the materials currently stored at the facility. ADEQ will supervise those activities to ensure they are properly carried out.

ADEQ first became aware of the criminal investigation concerning this facility in August 2002, when its Hazardous Waste Inspections and Compliance Unit Manager was contacted by two members of the interagency criminal drug task force working the case. Those officials informed the manager about a very sensitive investigation and requested permit information concerning the facility. ADEQ offered its full support and cooperation with the investigation and agreed to keep it confidential.

Since that time, ADEQ has offered its assistance to investigators and provided them with documents, permits and manifests from the facility.

ADEQ's Emergency Response Unit has been on the scene since the warrants were served Tuesday morning to ensure those serving the warrants and collecting evidence were able to do so safely. They remain on scene to ensure the security of the site and to assist with any necessary remedial actions.

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ADEQ to Host Regional Haze Public Workshop

PHOENIX (Feb. 14, 2003) --The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will be sponsoring a regional haze public workshop Feb. 20 in Phoenix.

There is no charge to attend the workshop that will be held at the Arizona State University Downtown Center, 502 East Monroe St. Building A, conference room #226, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The workshop will provide an overview of technical data developed by the Western Regional Air Partnership, a voluntary environmental planning organization that provides support for western states as they develop their plans to address regional haze in national parks and wilderness areas. ADEQ will present the implications of WRAP's work for Arizona's plan.

Regional haze is visibility impairment, a result of air pollutant emissions from sources located over a wide geographic area. Under the Clean Air Act, states are required to develop programs to assure reasonable progress toward meeting national visibility goals in parks and wilderness areas.

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ADEQ Director Owens Confirms Gold Canyon Wastewater Treatment Facility Plans to Deal with Odor

PHOENIX (Feb. 13, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that Gold Canyon wastewater treatment facility will take immediate steps to address concerns by local residents about odors emitted by the facility.

At a meeting Tuesday with the facility's president, Trevor T. Hill, and three of his staff members, ADEQ water quality officials outlined the community's concerns which center around odor emitted from the wastewater treatment facility.

Today, ADEQ received a letter from Hill outlining the steps he is taking to address these concerns and his commitment to work toward better relations with nearby community residents.

Within three weeks, the company plans to:

  • Build a temporary structure over the headworks facilities to reduce odor.
  • Establish a customer service telephone hotline to gather detailed information from residents about odors from the facility.
  • Install a weather station to track and quantify improvements in odor control measures.
  • Accelerate procurement activities related to Phase 3 modernization plans for odor control.

"We have made clear to the company that they need to address the concerns of nearby residents about odors from the facility, and the company has committed to do so," Owens said. "We will continue to monitor the facility and to work closely with local officials to ensure the company's management lives up to its commitment."

As part of its modernization, the facility will implement permanent odor abatement technology, including the installation of wet odor scrubbers, dry odor scrubbers and permanent covers for the facility's equalization tank, aeration basin, sludge holding tankage and headworks.

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ADEQ Director Owens Praises NADBank Funding for Border Air Quality Project

PHOENIX (Feb. 12, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today praised the recent decision by the North American Development Bank to fund a Mexican road paving project that will improve air quality in the sister cities of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.

The $4 million loan, approved Feb. 2, will be used to pave streets in the city of Agua Prieta, reducing air pollution in both cities caused by wind blown particulate matter or dust.

Road dust (or PM10) is believed to be a major contributor to bi-national air pollution, according to a multi-year study being conducted in the Douglas-Agua Prieta area by ADEQ. The study has detected PM10 at levels that exceed federal standards with the highest of those levels located within Mexico. ADEQ estimates that the road paving project would reduce PM10 emissions by 125 tons per year.

Owens said this project highlights the spirit of cooperation among groups working to address environmental issues along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border.

"The North American Development Bank's approval of this project demonstrates the importance of local leadership and working together to address border environmental issues," Owens said. "The city of Agua Prieta's initiative is a model for other border communities that seek to improve the quality of life and public health on both sides of the border."

The total cost of the paving project is estimated at $17 million. The first phase, paving 4.3 miles of streets, has already been completed, and NADBank funding will be applied toward the second phase of the project, which consists of paving an additional 16.7 miles of streets.

The loan also marks a first for NADBank, which has traditionally financed water, wastewater, and municipal solid waste projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. The United States and Mexico formally agreed at a meeting of the Bi-national Commission in November 2002 to expand the bank's mandate to include environmental infrastructure projects that address air quality and transportation infrastructure.

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Owens Announces ADEQ Plan to Help Water Systems Comply with New Federal Standard for Arsenic in Drinking Water
ADEQ plan saves small, rural Arizona water systems $6 million

PHOENIX (Feb. 10, 2003) -- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today unveiled the department's plan to help the state's small public water systems comply with the new federal standard for arsenic in drinking water.

The new federal standard requires 1,100 of the state's public water systems to lower the concentration of arsenic in their drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 ppb, by January 2006, a significant challenge to water systems in Arizona, where arsenic occurs naturally in soil and groundwater at concentrations ranging from 10 to 200 ppb.

The requirement is particularly challenging for the state's 287 small water systems and those in rural areas because they have fewer customers among which to spread compliance costs and they rely primarily on groundwater as their drinking water source.

"This state's smaller water systems need our help to comply with this new requirement that the federal government imposed on them," Owens said. "We put together a plan that simplifies the requirements and provides them with the most cost-effective solutions tailored to their individual needs. This plan will save them a lot of money."

Owens said that the ADEQ plan was developed for systems with fewer than 10,000 customers but also benefits larger metropolitan drinking water systems. He estimated the plan would save rural Arizona citizens about $6 million that would have been required to develop separate plans for individual drinking water systems.

Governor Janet Napolitano, whose administration is looking for every possible way to support Arizona communities with limited resources, praised the ADEQ plan.

"This plan is an example of smart government at work," Napolitano said. "By focusing on this problem early, we are now providing much needed help to small communities in our state that can least afford the costs of compliance with this new federal mandate."

Components of the plan include:

  • An overview section outlining in simple terms the federal compliance requirements;
  • A section on compliance options tailored to each of the state's small drinking water systems;
  • A funding resource section to help system operators identify potential funding sources;
  • A technical assistance section identifying technical experts in each area available to assist with compliance or funding issues.

As an added benefit, ADEQ incorporated a Web-based financial analysis tool into the plan that allows water system operators to assess the costs of various compliance options spread among their customer bases. The interactive database is designed to help system operators answer frequently asked questions, find arsenic treatment alternatives and estimate installation and operation costs. The tool will be available on Friday at ADEQ's Web site.

Although the costs of compliance remain an obstacle in some cases, this plan allows small water systems the ability to apply their limited resources directly toward compliance and not on studying options, said Owens.

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