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Phoenix home builder fined $155,000 to settle dust violations


SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined with Richmond American Homes of Arizona, Inc. $155,000 for alleged dust violations that occurred at five residential construction sites in Maricopa County.

The violations were discovered during routine inspections from 2003 to 2005 conducted by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

“Maricopa County’s particulate air pollution continues to be a serious problem, and companies not complying with fugitive dust control laws are one of the causes,” said Deborah Jordan, the EPA’s Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA works closely with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department to enforce these laws and send the message that noncompliance will not be tolerated.”

From November 2003 to January 2005 Richmond 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 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 spray disturbed surface areas with water while conducting earth moving operations on an acre or more, and
• failure to implement approved control measures while conducting a dust generating activity.

“The resolution in this case is a step in the right direction in improving air quality in Maricopa County and our quality of life,” said Daniel G. Knauss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

As part of the settlement, all current and new company 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 50 acres in disturbed surface area.

One of the primary causes 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.

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.


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