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Tempe, Ariz. builder pays $106,000 to settle dust violations

Release Date: 05/07/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415/947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with Sun State of Tempe, Ariz. for alleged dust violations that occurred at commercial construction sites in Maricopa County.

From October 2004 to February 2007 Sun State allegedly failed to comply with Maricopa County rules during earth moving and dust generating operations at construction projects. Maricopa County inspectors discovered the following violations:

    • failure to install a trackout control device to remove particulate matter from vehicles
    • failure to immediately clean up dirt tracked out 50 feet beyond the site, and
    • failure to water down disturbed surface areas while conducting earth moving operations.

“Maricopa County's particulate air pollution is a serious problem, and companies not complying with dust control regulations are one of the primary causes,” said Deborah Jordan, the EPA’s Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA works closely with the County to enforce them and send the message that non-compliance will not be tolerated.”

The primary cause of particulate pollution in the Phoenix area is wind blown dust from construction and home development sites, road building activities, unpaved parking lots and roads, disturbed vacant lands, and paved road dust.

As part of the settlement, all current and new Sun State employees involved in dust-generating activities must complete dust-control training, the company must certify every six months that training is up-to-date, and employ a qualified dust control coordinator at all Maricopa County sites equaling or exceeding 5 acres in disturbed surface area.

Particulate matter, including dust, affects the respiratory system. Particle pollution is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs, and is linked to a variety of significant health problems -- ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease.

The elderly, children and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma are especially sensitive to high levels of particulate matter. Particle pollution also is the main cause of visibility impairment in the nation’s cities and national parks.

Maricopa County exceeds the national health standard for particulate matter, or dust. The EPA has classified the county as a serious non-attainment area for particulate matter. The Clean Air Act requires the state to submit a plan containing measures that will reduce airborne particulate matter five percent a year until the area meets the federal air quality standard.

The settlement will be published in the federal register and finalized following a 30-day public comment period and court approval.
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