A war of words continues between those who oppose the opening of a new smelting plant in rural La Paz County and the company which plans to open it, Alliance Metals and its supporters, after state environmental regulators signed off on the facility.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) approved the company’s application for an air-quality permit, which the company says is similar to other permits granted in La Paz County, including for natural gas pipeline stations and Rose Acres egg farm.
District 3 resident Gary Saiter told Parker Live he expects hundreds of locals to show up in opposition at a County Planning and Zoning meeting on Thursday.
“Hundreds of local smelter opponents are expected to rally and testify against the proposed zoning change,” he said. “The La Paz County Comprehensive Plan specifically does not permit this kind of smelting factory to be located anywhere in La Paz County, let alone in the center of a population center.”
The proposed site is in the town of Wenden, AZ, which has a population of under 1,000 permanent residents with more visitors in the winter. The site is currently zoned for agricultural/residential (RA-40) and would need to be changed to Industrial Planned Development (IPD). In addition, there is a minor amendment required to the County’s Comprehensive Plan which would need to be approved also. The 9-member Planning and Zoning Commission will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for a final decision on the changes.
According to Saiter, the County has received “hundreds of letters and emails from residents opposing this project,” including documents with specific technical arguments as to why it should not be approved. “Besides the toxic aluminum emissions from the facility that could poison agriculture, the large amounts of chlorine that would be stored and used at the facility pose an extreme risk in the event of a chlorine spill. Wenden residents would have less than six minutes to evacuate, as the facility would be less than a mile away,” Saiter said.
The company responded Monday, accusing Saiter of having a “deficient record on water quality” himself as president of the Wenden Domestic Water Improvement District. The company says it is planning to exceed the standards set by ADEQ and federal statutes and cites other local residents who support the plant, which it says will bring jobs and tax revenue to the County.
The plant would take in scrap aluminum and process it, selling the recycled metal to manufacturing clients.
The zoning meeting, the next stage for Alliance Metals, will be held this Thursday, December 5th, 2019 at 3 p.m. at the Centennial Public Library in Wenden, 69725 Centennial Park Rd. Wenden, AZ 85357.