Arizona Builder Fined More than $100K for Violating Dust Control Measures

EPA has fined Summit Builders Construction Co., based in Maricopa County, Arizona, $105,610 for allegedly failing to comply with Clean Air Act regulations. In addition to the monetary fine, Summit also is required to take steps to minimize the generation of dust at its construction sites.

“Air pollution from particulate matter directly impacts the health of the community. It’s an especially serious issue in Maricopa County, where air quality does not meet the federal standard,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “EPA will not tolerate companies who fail to comply with dust control regulations. We are working closely with local air quality agencies to enforce rules to protect the community from airborne dust.”

U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke for the District of Arizona added, "Air quality is a concern for many who live in and travel through Maricopa County. The resolution of this case provides for positive measures which will help improve air quality in the future."

In 2006 and 2007, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAD) inspected five commercial construction projects in Maricopa County and uncovered eight violations for failing to perform various measures required to reduce particulate matter emissions. These included failure to install a trackout control device to remove particulate matter from vehicles; failure to immediately clean up dirt that is tracked more than 50 feet beyond the site; failure to operate a water application system during earthmoving operations; and failure to comply with the dust control plan.

In addition to the penalty, Summit is required to train employees in basic dust control, document that training, and employ qualified dust controls at larger work sites for two years.

Maricopa County exceeds the national health standard for particulate matter, PM-10 (one-seventh the width of a human hair), and has been classified by the EPA as a serious non-attainment area. In May 2010, EPA denied Arizona’s claim that dust storms caused the high pollution readings in Phoenix. Because of this, Arizona must submit an adequate plan to EPA on how the state plans to come into attainment for PM-10. Failure to do so will result in a freeze to the state’s federal transportation funds.

EPA notes that particulate matter 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, the agency said.

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