A clarification is needed regarding Alliance Metals USA’s application for a Class II Air Quality Permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. A story in the Nov. 27 edition of the Pioneer said the permit had been issued. The Pioneer has since learned the permit was granted, but it has not been issued.
Erin Jordan, ADEQ Public Information Officer, said the permit was granted Oct. 31. She said the permit is actually issued once all the applicable fees are paid. She told the Pioneer in an e-mail that, as of Dec. 6, those fees have not been paid.
Alliance Metals sent out a press release Nov. 20 stating they had the air quality permit for their proposed aluminum recycling smelter to be located near Wenden. However, they did not say the permit was issued. They used the word “granted.”
The difference between a permit being granted and issued was brought to the Pioneer’s attention by Scott Meyer of Don’t Waste Arizona, Inc. At a meeting of the La Paz County Planning & Zoning Commission Dec. 5 at the Centennial Community Center, Meyer told the commission that Alliance did not have an air quality permit.
Meyer told the Pioneer he had contacted Balaji Vaidyanathan of ADEQ’s Facilities Emissions Control Section and asked why the agency’s responses to public comments had not been released if the permit had been issued. Vaidyanathan replied that the permit had been granted, but it had not been issued because the fees had not been paid.
“Alliance Metals does not currently have a legal air permit to operate under,” Meyer said in an e-mail to the Pioneer.
Jordan said that, even if the air quality permit is issued by ADEQ, that is not the final word on it. She said interested parties can appeal through the Office of Administrative Hearings. Any appeal must be filed within 30 days after the issuance of the permit. Jordan said the Office of Administrative Hearings could sustain, modify, or reverse the decision made by ADEQ.
Alliance Metals wants to operate an aluminum recycling smelter on a site near Wenden that once housed a cotton gin. They say they will operate an environmentally safe and clean operation that will bring in jobs and much needed tax revenue. They have also promised to support local non-profits and schools.
Opponents to the smelter have concerns over air pollution, truck traffic on U.S. Route 60, the toxic materials that will be used in the smelting process, and the hazardous by-products of the process. Many of them say they have no problems with a smelter coming to La Paz County, but that it should be located in an area zoned for heavy industry. The Wenden site is currently zoned for agriculture.
At the Dec. 5 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission heard from many area residents who are opposed to the smelter. They voted to recommend the Board of Supervisors reject a proposed change to the county’s comprehensive plan and a proposed zoning change that would’ve allowed the smelter at that site.