STOP THE SMELTER!
There have been many statements made by Alliance Metals Southwest, LLC regarding the aluminum recycling smelter they plan on building in Wenden and about it’s benefits to the Valley and the County, so we decided to address some of them. All of the information used to check the company’s claims have come from public documents that have been published by Alliance Metals.
- If the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issues the facility an Air Quality Control Permit, does that means the facility is safe and will not emit pollutants, right?
- No. According to Alliance Metals application to ADEQ and as outlined in the Draft Permit, this facility will emit nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, dioxins and furans… despite using emission control equipment. In fact, according to the documents the facility will emit 35 ton of these pollutants annually. These pollutants are very hazardous to crops, animals and humans. As stated in a 1994 report by the EPA , “no level of exposure to dioxin is considered safe.” The levels of these pollutants are considered safe levels by ADEQ but they aren’t.
- The company will be investing $30 million in the plant in La Paz County.
- Not exactly. In an August 22, 2019 article in the AZ Republic, Thomas Galvin, a Scottsdale-based attorney representing Alliance Metals stated that the company was investing $10 million. Which is correct? When Alliance began getting push back on this project they began talking about all of the jobs and tax money that this facility would bring to La Paz County. They hired a consulting firm to estimate the tax revenue. In order to make the number seem larger, they inflated their original investment and spoke of the tax revenue saying “over ten years.” According to Loren Barton, VP of Alliance Metals, the investment will be over time. How long? Chances are that the investment, if approved will never exceed $10 million, if that.
- Alliance has stated that if approved the “the project will generate more that $714,781 in new property tax revenue over ten years”. Is this true?
- Well, not exactly. First off, that number is based on a $30 million investment which they are not doing in the beginning and may not do at all. Plus it is only $71,478 per year. So, if you assume that their numbers are correct a little over $11,000 goes to the County, each year. That’s .03% of the Counties annual budget! The amount that goes to Wenden Elementary a little over 1% of the schools annual budget. That’s not even enough to hire a teacher. (See my comments on an editorial rebuttal: Editorial Rebuttal)
- It gets even worse if you calculate their tax contribution on a $10 million investment which is probably more in line with what they are prepared to do. That means the annual tax contribution is only $23,826. There is simply too much risk posed for very little reward.
- The company stated that they have had a “healthy and positive turnout for our job fairs across La Paz County”.
- Not so much. The job fair in Wenden had less than a dozen people show up. The fairs in Quartzite and in Parker had less than ten each. The company has already admitted that they will have a hard time finding employees and they should have known that before they bought the property. Also, they touted local employment and benefits to the Valley. If they wanted to hire locally why go to Quartzite and Parker looking for employees? Just look at the pictures they took at the fairs that they posted on their Facebook page. If they wanted to create the illusion of having a lot of people they should not have posted the pictures of no one. So the kind of jobs they are offering isn’t getting much attention.
- “Alliance Metals will create new jobs paying between $13.50 and $25 per hour. We will be hiring for plant managers, supervisors, technicians and other jobs.”
- Well, maybe but probably not. They say there will be 30 jobs however that is the same number of jobs they talked about when they said their investment was going to be $10 million. It doesn’t seem likely. Also, they have already stated that they will have trouble filling these jobs since they had three job fairs and little qualified interest. They have gone as far as Quartzite and Parker. If they go forward, they will be forced to bring people in. (So much for local employment.) Also, let’s talk about those jobs. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, almost 22% of people working in aluminum smelting operations develop “potroom” asthma, COPD, pulmonary issues and/or cancer within the first two years of employment. If the company were to actually hire 30 people, as they say, seven of those people would develop health conditions or disease that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.
- According to Loren Barton, VP for Alliance Metals, there will only be a few trucks per hour as a result of the plants activity.
- I guess that is about true however let’s break that down. Based on the published information provided to ADEQ, this facility will process 87,600 tons of aluminum. They have also stated that they will be operating 24/7. Based on that information and doing some simple math here is the result. There will be 584 50,000 pound semi trucks per month on our roads carrying their raw material and finished product. That does not include service trucks, employees, etc. They have told me that their biggest customers/vendors would be Ecology, CA and Phoenix. That means that they will be traveling on Highway 60, Salome Road and Centennial Road.
With that amount of increased truck traffic two issues come up. One is if these roads are designed to handle this kind of traffic (I know that Centennial Road and probably Salome Road are not). Second is safety. The trucks would be coming directly through Salome with some directly past the High School. I have asked via email, Mr. Sullivan to make an assessment regarding the impact of this increased traffic but have received no response. We have a significant traffic issue in the area as it stands due to the increased truck traffic because of the increased farming. This will just make matters worse.
- This was my letter to the Editor of the Parker Pioneer responding to a recent resident of Bouse who sent a letter to the Editor which appears to be written by Rose Law Firm.
- There is so much more to this smelter story it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, the proposed smelter site is in Wenden and four miles from Salome and Dean is not part of our community. He lives in Bouse, 34 miles away, so he would not be subject to any health or environmental issues raised by this facility. I suspect that Dean would not like it if I campaigned to place such a facility in his back yard. This is an issue for the residents here, in this part of the county.
This letter also sounds very much like the kind of language and verbiage that is used by Rose Law Firm, the attorneys and PR firm that represents Alliance Metals in this process. In any event, if you have not been involved in this controversy then there are some facts that you may not be aware of.
Alliance states that the property is isolated from homes while it is not. This property is .34 miles from the closest home and only .75 miles from our elementary school, which is located in the center of town. This facility and the risks that it presents are too close to homes, schools and businesses. Additionally the property is on a active flood plain and on the edge of the Wenden and aggressive land subsidence bowl. According to ADWR, Wenden has sunk 3.5 feet in the last 15 years and continues to sink 2.2 inches per year. Subsidence areas are prone to sink holes and fissures that develop with no warning. Here is why this is important:
The EPA lists secondary aluminum smelters as some of the “dirtiest” facilities in the United States. In fact, while Alliance Metals talk about being environmentally responsible and using state of the art pollution control equipment, this facility will pollute the air in McMullen Valley. According to their application to ADEQ for an Air Quality Control permit; this facility will emit 35 tons of hazardous waste including dioxins and furans. When you think of dioxins, think agent orange. They like to say that there are other facilities in the county, which already have such a permit. While this is true, it is not the whole truth. Each permit issued by ADEQ is different based on the kind of pollution that the facility might emit. For example, several of the other permit holders include the Parker landfill, Rose Egg Farm, the crematory in Parker, etc. None of these facilities emit dioxins and furans.
The facility, according to their application to ADEQ also states that they will have a 30,000-gallon tank of chlorine that will be used in the smelting process. That amount of chlorine puts this facility into a special category required by the EPA. It will be what is called a RMF. It means that the EPA considers it a major risk. There are a little over 12,000 such facilities in the US and fully 10% have serious accidents in the last five years. An accident such as the recent on that happened in Chandler would reach, according to EPA risk management software, Wenden within four minutes. In six minutes the cloud would cover all of Wenden with a concentration level that would be immediately lethal.
Again, according to their application, the facility will be receiving hazardous waste material in the form of dross, a substance that is extremely toxic to humans. They will also produce over 200,000 pounds of salt cake by product; another substance considered toxic to humans and that requires special handling. In the event of a major flood, such as we had in 2000, 2010 and 2014, the water could cause this material to be leeched into the ground and then into the aquifer. The aquifer, which provides life to the valley, is 512 square miles and is the only source of water in the valley.
Their story about additional tax revenue is not what it seems to be either. On August 22, 2019 Thomas Galvin, Alliance Metals attorney was quoted in an article for the Arizona Republic. At that time he stated that the company was intending on investing $10 million in this project. About a month or so later they decided to quantify the amount of taxes that they would be contributing. That was a smart move however overnight the investment became $30 million and the taxes they would pay was stated over a 10-year period. All of this was to make the tax revenue seem higher than it actually would be. The company has also stated to me that they would be investing in the property over time, which is code for stating that they only planned on investing $10 million at the most.
So they said that their tax contribution would be $714,781 over 10 years. At that rate La Paz County would receive a little over $11,000. That amount represents .03% of the County’s annual budget, hardly significant. The revenue for Wenden Elementary, the main beneficiary, would be a bit over 1% of the schools annual budget, not even enough to hire a half of a teacher. If the investment is $10 million it gets even worse. The total tax revenue would be $23,826 per year. This is hardly enough to make this facility in this location worth the risk. The risk to property values and lost winter visitor and tourism revenue is far greater than any benefit this plant brings in this location.
They say there will be 30 jobs however that is the same number of jobs they talked about when they said their investment was going to be $10 million. It doesn’t seem likely. Also, they have already stated that they will have trouble filling these jobs since they had three job fairs and little qualified interest. They have gone as far as Quartzite and Parker. If they go forward, they will be forced to bring people in. (So much for local employment.) Also, let’s talk about those jobs. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, almost 22% of people working in aluminum smelting operations develop “potroom” asthma, COPD, pulmonary issues and/or cancer within the first two years of employment. If the company were to actually hire 30 people, as they say, seven of those people would develop health conditions or disease that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.
As far as the company being experienced, that remains to be seen. The parent company is Technocon International. They formed Alliance Metal Southwest, LLC in January. That doesn’t speak to me that the company has experience in aluminum recycling smelting. They have yet to prove that they have any experience in this business and that’s hardly a basis for trust.
Both the Wenden Domestic Water Improvement District and the Wenden Elementary School Board Passed resolutions to oppose this development in this location.
Visit www.NoSmelterHere.comfor more information.
Chairman of the Board for Wenden Water Improvement District
President of Wenden Elementary School