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United States files lawsuits against two Phoenix sand and gravel companies for ongoing dust violations

Release Date: 9/10/2004
Contact Information: Jim Vreeland, 415-947-4298

SAN FRANCISCO -- On behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona today filed lawsuits seeking penalties from two Phoenix sand and gravel companies over alleged Clean Air Act violations.

T.R.P., L.L.C., and Raven Rock Construction, L.L.C., both failed to comply with Maricopa County rules that require a permit for earth moving and dust generating activities. Both companies failed to submit a dust control plan to the county, and to use a suitable control device to remove dirt from vehicle tires entering and exiting construction sites. Raven Rock also failed to immediately clean up any dust tracked out 50 feet beyond the site.

The EPA is seeking both injunctive relief and penalties up to $27,500 per violation per day.

"Dust in the air is a serious health threat, " said Deborah Jordan, the EPA's Air Division director for the PacificSouthwest region. "Today's action will help protect the residents of Maricopa County and holds TRP and Ravenrock accountable for failing to comply with air quality standards."

Maricopa County discovered the violations at the T.R.P. facility during a January 2001 inspection, and found the same violations during inspections between March 2001 and August 2003. The county issued numerous notices of violations. The EPA also issued a notice of violation in July 2002 and followed up with an order in September 2002.

During a November 2002 inspection of the Raven Rock facility, Maricopa County discovered the violations, and found the same violations in subsequent inspections in December 2002 and March, June, July and August 2003. The EPA cited the company in August 2003 for the same violations and followed up with an order in September 2003.

Neither company has complied with the EPA' s orders.

Maricopa County's particulate air pollution, which includes dust and soot, exceeds the national health standard for PM-10. The EPA has classified the county as a serious non-attainment area for particulate matter. Under the federal Clean Air Act, areas failing to meet air quality standards must adopt control measures to reduce dust and soot in the air. The dust control measures are part of the state' s clean air plan.

Particulate matter, including dust, affects the respiratory system and can cause damage to lung tissue and premature death. The elderly, children and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma are especially sensitive to high levels of particulate matter.

The primary cause of particulate matter is wind blown dust from unpaved parking lots and roads, disturbed vacant lands, agricultural fields, construction sites, sand and gravel facilities and other stationary sources.

Maricopa County referred the case to the EPA after unsuccessful attempts to bring T.R.P. and Raven Rock into compliance.