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U.S. EPA Completes Hazardous Waste Removal From Property on Gila River Indian Community

Release Date: 7/11/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

     PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed the removal of thousands of gallons of hazardous waste from an abandoned site on the Gila River Indian Community outside of Sacaton, Ariz.

     The project began on June 17 and was completed yesterday. In all, nearly 100 55-gallon drums of flammable, toxic chemicals were removed by EPA Region 9’s emergency response branch and its contractors. Approximately 3,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid sludge was also removed from a large tank at the site.

     The chemicals were removed from the abandoned Electro Treatment Co. off of Hwy. 87 at Mountain View Road. The company has been defunct for more than a year and its owner, David Flasha, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

     Prior to going out of business, the company removed precious metals, such as platinum, from mine wastes reportedly by using acids the EPA removed from the site.

     The U.S. EPA ordered Flasha to remove the hazardous chemicals from the site in May, but he failed to do so, prompting the Gila River Indian Community  -- which owns the land Electro Treatment is on -- to request that the EPA undertake this emergency response.

     "Anytime you have chemicals abandoned, it presents a significant health risk," said U.S. EPA On-Scene Coordinator Steve Calanog. "If any of them were released to the environment, it could have presented a health threat to nearby workers and residents."

   At the time the EPA issued the removal order to Flasha, the agency estimated the removal costs would be approximately $92,000. The EPA will pay for this removal and try to recover the costs associated with it from Flasha in bankruptcy court.