By Shawn Byrne
A company wanting to operate a secondary aluminum smelter in Wenden recently cleared a major hurdle when Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) granted a Standard Class II Air Quality permit.
“This type of permit we have been granted is common in La Paz County. Our operation will also go above and beyond the required environmental safeguards,” said Loren Barton, vice president for Alliance Metals USA. “We will have state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure, and mitigation controls to contain emissions and protect air and water quality.
“We are serious about running an environmentally safe and secure facility while creating new local jobs.”
The granting of the permit by ADEQ doesn’t mean the company has cleared all the hurdles necessary that would allow it to begin its operations. A strong contingent of residents from Wenden and Salome continue to voice concerns about the plant. The two rural farming communities are located about 50 miles west of Wickenburg on U.S. 60.
“This does not mean that their smelter will be safe and not pollute,” said Gary Saiter, chairman of the Wenden Water Improvement District and president of Wenden Elementary School Board. “It just limits the amount of pollution. People may think because it has been approved by ADEQ it is okay, but it only limits the amount of pollution.”
Alliance Metals wants to bring new jobs and economic development to the site of a closed down cotton gin at 70050 U.S. 60, according to a statement released Nov. 19. The company said it would “go through additional state and independent third-party testing each year to make sure water and air in the area are protected.”
The company has stated on numerous occasions it will be investing $30 million into the project, which is expected to turn into 30 permanent jobs up-and-down the wage scale. Alliance sees being granted the permit by ADEQ as a victory for its investment of creating new local jobs and what it calls “a substantial increase in tax revenue for schools, first responders and community services” in the area.
The property that Alliance purchased is currently zoned for agriculture. The company is going in front of the La Paz County Planning and Zoning Commission for rezoning approvals at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Centennial Community Center, 69725 Centennial Park Road in Wenden. Final approval or denial of a rezone will come from the La Paz County Board of Supervisors at a later date.
In its statement, Alliance says its zoning requests allows the Board of Supervisors to put stipulations and conditions on the company to open and operate the facility.
“We want to make sure the community knows that we have a steadfast commitment to protect water and air quality,” Barton said. “Our recycling efforts are centered around sustainability. We will practice what we preach.”