La Paz County has a great opportunity to attract new jobs and business investments that will generate needed tax revenue for our local schools, community colleges, fire departments and flood controls.

It’s an opportunity the county should not miss.

Our company, Alliance Metals USA, wants to bring construction and permanent jobs to a planned aluminum manufacturing facility located between Wenden and Salome.

The site is a vacant, closed-down cotton gin. We plan on investing $30 million in the jobs producing facility.

Our goal, our promise, is to be a good neighbor that will create jobs and tax revenue while safeguarding the environment in a beautiful part of Arizona.

We will be an environmentally responsible steward of the property. We are going through all the necessary and required government and environmental permitting processes and will satisfy all the required environmental safeguards and regulations.

Alliance Metals USA will install mitigation infrastructure and technology to curtail emissions and ensure air and water quality. We must achieve approvals from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in order to operate.

Our innovative operations will make our processes environmentally friendly. The cotton gins that previously operated on the same site produced 1,000 particulate emissions per day during ginning season. Our facility will also use a small amount of water. We will take significant steps to protect water supplies.

There will only be a couple of trucks per hour passing through the facility. We want to be a responsible neighbor. We will be providing more plans to La Paz County showing the minimal impact on traffic.

We know La Paz County is an outstanding place to live, raise a family and retire, but the county and McMullen Valley also needs new jobs and investments.

Our new jobs and investments will generate important tax revenue for local schools, community colleges, the region’s fire districts, as well as La Paz County overall.

There are skeptics and foes to the jobs and investment. Some of them are fueled by social media conspiracy theories and biased news stories that have had to be corrected because of factual errors. We have always been transparent about our plans for the property.

Alliance Metals USA, a new property owner in the county, is ready to be a community-minded employer and a good neighbor. We will safeguard air and water quality and bring new jobs to La Paz and the McMullen Valley. We want to answer our neighbors concerns and questions as the approval process for our facility moves forward.

We hope our investment will also open the door to more employers bringing jobs and investing in La Paz County.

We know that economic development is a priority for the Board of Supervisors and La Paz County’s small businesses, workers and residents.

We hope to be given a chance to earn the trust and confidence of the community as we generate critical jobs and tax revenue that will benefit all.

 Loren Barton

Vice President

Alliance Metals USA

(1) comment

Gary Saiter

Here are important details that Alliance Metals and Mr. Barton are not sharing:

On September 4th, 2019, ADEQ conducted a public hearing at our Community Center. It was the culmination of a 30-day public comment period as part of Alliance’s application for an Air Quality control permit. Attending were about 150 local citizens and most of the senior management of La Paz County. Approximately a dozen people signed up to speak. Every speaker expressed opposition to the aluminum recycling smelter, no one spoke in support.

Once they became aware of the potential hazards, both the Wenden Elementary School Board and the Wenden Water District passed resolutions to officially oppose this development. These two boards represent the only elected officials in Wenden.

Locating a secondary aluminum smelter in a populated area violates all of the rules of modern zoning and planning. No consideration was given to the social, and environmental impact to its location. The EPA labels such facilities as major sources of hazardous air pollutants. This kind of operation should be located at least 25 miles from a population center. Alliance’s location is within Wenden town limits, .34 miles from the closest home, .75 miles from the elementary school and the entire town of Wenden is within 1.0 mile of their site. This is a concern for several reasons.

Stated in the company’s application to ADEQ and in the Draft Permit ADEQ is considering, the facility will emit nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead and hazardous air pollutants including dioxins and furans. The total amount of hazardous emissions will be 35 tons per year, as stated in ADEQ’s Technical Review and that’s with all the emission control measures required. They talk about the pollution that the cotton gin caused in the valley but it has been years since it was in operation.

Additionally, the facility will use and store 30,000 gallons of chlorine. Using air dispersion models created with EPA software, it has been assessed that in the event of an accident that causes a catastrophic release of chlorine, assuming a 10 mph wind blowing toward the east, a cloud with the concentration of 4,000 parts of chlorine per million would cover the entire town of Wenden in less than six minutes. According to the CDC, a concentration of 4,000 parts per million is immediately lethal. There would be no time to evacuate.

With regard to Mr. Barton’s remark about trucks: “There will only be a couple of trucks per hour passing through the facility.” I refer to information they submitted to ADEQ. The facility will be operating 24/7. They will be processing 87,600 tons of ingots and bars per year. That’s 365 20-ton trucks per month in and out of the facility.

The company continues to talk about jobs so let’s examine that for a minute. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, almost 22% of people working in aluminum smelting operations develop “potroom” asthma, COPD, pulmonary issues and/or cancer within the first two years of employment. If the company were to actually hire 30 people, as they say, seven of those people would develop health conditions or disease that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

With regard to taxes, they like to discuss how their increased taxes would help. Yes more tax income revenue would help with most of it going to Wenden Elementary and the High School. None would go to Salome Elementary because they are out of district. They know that the community has been flooded several times so they talk about flood control. Fifteen percent of their tax money would go into the general fund of the County with no guarantee that any of it would be spent on flood control let alone even in the Wenden and Salome area. As far as taxes for the Community College, very few people in Wenden or Salome use the services of the Community College since it is located in Yuma with a branch in Parker, over an hours drive from Wenden.

There are other areas in the county that are designated for heavy industrial use. They are not in a population center or near agriculture. Agriculture and population centers don’t go with heavy industry.

There are other issues around the location of this smelter such as 40% of the property being in the flood plain and in a place where there have been three 100-year floods since 2000. The fact that it is on the edge of a land subsidence bowel, which will increase flooding, and that almost 10% of the property is deemed as National Wetlands presents additional risk.

I would welcome Alliance Metals and their operation to La Paz County and encourage their development, just not in the middle of a population center.

Gary Saiter

Chairman, Wenden Water Improvement District Board

President, Wenden Elementary School Board

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.