The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a Class II Air Quality permit to Alliance Metals USA for a proposed aluminum recycling smelter in Wenden. In a press release, the company said this is an important milestone in their plans for a $30 million facility that will brings jobs and tax revenue to La Paz County.
The release goes on to state Alliance Metals plans to operate an environmentally safe facility that will bring economic benefits to the McMullen Valley. However, one of the leading opponents of the facility, Wenden resident George Saiter, said in a letter to the Pioneer the press release has many misleading statements.
Alliance Metals said they have been seven similar Air Quality permits issued in La Paz County. Saiter said these have been for facilities that are very different from Alliance Metals, including the county landfill and Rose Acre Farms’ two egg farms. He noted none of these facilities will produce the pollutants or use the hazardous materials that Alliance Metals will.
The press release states their facility will not produce as much pollution as the old cotton gin that was once on the site did. Saiter said the cotton gin has not been in operation for two decades, and added that it did not produce the same type of pollutants that the smelter will produce.
“It’s just not an equal comparison,” he said.
Loren Barton, Vice President for Alliance Metals USA, said the company will go above and beyond the required environmental safeguards.
“We will have state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure and mitigation to contain emissions and protect air and water quality,” Barton said in the press release. “We are serious about running an environmentally safe and secure facility while creating new local jobs.”
The smelter has drawn opposition from the community. Much of this was expressed at an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality hearing on the air quality permit that was held in September. Saiter and Wenden resident Larry O’Daniel and both expressed concerns over hazardous materials being used so close to populated areas. They said they didn’t object to Alliance Metals coming to La Paz County, but that it should be in an area already zoned for industrial use.
The location will be at 70050 U.S. 60 in Wenden, near the entrance to Centennial Park. As was noted in the press release, the property once housed a large cotton gin. Alliance Metals is seeking an amendment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan and a zoning change from Rural Agricultural-40 acre minimum (RA-40) to Industrial Planned Development (IPD).
The proposed smelter for is on the agenda for the La Paz County Planning and Zoning Commission for their Dec. 5 meeting. The meeting will be held at 3 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Centennial Community Center located at 69725 Centennial Park Road in Centennial Park, which is between Salome and Wenden.