Alliance Metals says they have made changes to their plans, and they want McMullen Valley residents to give them a second look. To that end, they held an “open house” Feb. 29 at the Centennial Community Center between Salome and Wenden. Loren Barton, Alliance’s Vice President, was on hand to answer questions. He spent much of the time in the middle of crowds of residents who had plenty of questions and comments.
Alliance Metals has plans to build an aluminum recycling smelter at the intersection of U.S. Route 60 and Centennial Park Road, on the site of what was once a large cotton gin. There has been substantial opposition to the plant from area residents. Their concerns range from hazardous materials used and produced in the smelting process, emissions from the plant, traffic on U.S Route 60, and the site’s proximity to a flood zone.
Supporters of the plant say it will bring needed jobs to the area and will produce more tax revenue for the local schools and La Paz County. They also say the plant will produce less pollution than the cotton gin did when it was in operation.
Prior to the meeting, Alliance Metals issued statements stating they had changed their plans to meet concerns of local residents. Among other things, they will no longer be using chlorine as part of their process. They will also pay for hazmat training for local first responders. They also said they will operate a state-of-the-art environmentally safe facility, will hire local contractors and employees, will work with the Board of Supervisors on preferred routes and times of day for trucks to arrive and depart the facility, and will submit to annual third-party inspections by an independent party selected by the Board of Supervisors.
Opposition to the plant was voiced at an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality hearing on an air quality permit in September 2019, and at a La Paz County Planning & Zoning Commission in December.
To build the smelter, Alliance will need a zoning change and an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan. The Planning & Zoning Commission recommended the County Board of Supervisors reject the rezoning application and the changes to the comprehensive plan.
Among those at the Feb. 29 meeting was County District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin. Her district includes the McMullen Valley. She said she was not happy that Barton had not met with her before this as the plant would be in her district.
“I’m here to support my community,” she said. “You have to listen to the voice of the people. This is something they just don’t want here.”
The Pioneer asked Barton why that particular site was selected. He said the County and the La Paz Economic Development Corporation initially showed him a site in Parker South, but they concluded the utilities were inadequate for what they needed. The McMullen Valley site had more potential, he said. He added that, since it had been a cotton gin, much of the infrastructure of heavy equipment was already in place.
Barton said he was generally pleased with how the Feb. 29 meeting went. He said he heard some concerns he hadn’t heard before.
“I saw a lot of opposition,” he said. “I’m glad people were sharing their concerns with me.”