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Two Phoenix companies pay combined $247,770 to settle air violations

Release Date: 02/15/2006
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

(San Francisco, Calif. – Feb. 15, 2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with Edward Kraemer & Sons, Inc for $190,000 and Meritage Homes of Arizona for $57,770 for alleged dust violations that occurred at construction sites in Maricopa County.

“Maricopa County's particulate air pollution continues to be a serious problem,” said Deborah Jordan, the EPA’s Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Noncompliance with the fugitive dust control laws is one of the causes of particulate pollution, and our enforcement actions send the message that noncompliance will not be tolerated.”

“These penalties are an appropriate deterrent to non-compliance,” said Robert Kard, director of the Maricopa County Air Quality Department. “We have zero tolerance for violations when we have such a huge particulate pollution problem here in the Valley.”

U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton stated, “The resolution in this case is a step in the right direction in improving the air quality in Maricopa County and our quality of life.”

From May 2003 to January 2005, Edward Kraemer & Sons, Inc. failed to comply with Maricopa County rules during earth moving and dust generating operations at construction projects in Phoenix. Maricopa County inspectors discovered the following violations:

    • failure to use a suitable control device to remove dirt from vehicle tires exiting construction sites,
    • failure to immediately clean up dirt tracked out 50 feet beyond the site,
    • failure to water down disturbed surface areas while conducting earth moving operations, and
    • failure to implement approved control measures while conducting a dust generating activity.

Meritage Homes of Arizona failed to comply with dust rules at a residential construction projects in Phoenix and Surprise, Ariz. During three separate inspections in 2004, Maricopa County inspectors discovered that the company had:
    • failed to apply water during earthmoving operations,
    • failed to install a suitable trackout control device, and
    • failed to apply water during weed abatement.

In May, the EPA also settled with Pulice Construction for $53,000 for allegedly failing to use a suitable control device to remove dirt from vehicle tires exiting construction sites, and failing to immediately clean up dirt tracked out 50 feet beyond the site.

Maricopa County 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.

One of the primary causes of particulate pollution in the Phoenix area is wind blown dust from construction and home development sites, highway construction, sand and gravel facilities, unpaved parking lots and roads, disturbed vacant lands, agricultural fields, and other stationary sources.

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.