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Maricopa County, Fisher Reach Settlement

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Maricopa County residents are breathing a little easier after Maricopa County’s Air Quality Dept. reached an enforcement settlement agreement with Dickson, N.D.-based Fisher and Sand Gravel Co. for $1 million over air quality violations.

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The settlement consists of a $650,000 fine and another $350,000 investment in an air quality awareness program that is still in development.

“The truth is that the program has not been formulated yet,” says MCAQD spokeswoman Holly Ward. The department hopes the program will help prevent future pollution.

According to a press release, the program will be implemented and begin outreach initiatives this year.

“The tough part about these cases is that they occur after the pollution has occurred,” Ward says.

More than 1,000 violations occurred over a two and a half year period beginning in 2007, at the Fisher Sand and Gravel plant located at 3826 S. 28th St. in Phoenix.

Ward characterized the violations as “pretty severe.”

Fisher Sand and Gravel has taken steps to correct its actions, according to company spokesman Karl Gentles. “Fisher is relieved to finalize the settlement and start with a clean slate,” Gentles says. “It is a different company than it was two years ago.”

A number of improvements have been made to the Phoenix plant since the violations were brought forward. “We have moved quite a bit of gravel and sound and other products to different areas of the facility that would minimize dust,” Gentles says. “The sand tiles have been removed to minimize and mitigate the amount of dust that comes off the site.”

The company also added environmental management systems to help ensure it is in compliance with all state and local permits.

This wasn’t the first violation for Fisher Sand and Gravel from the MCAQD. In May 2009, the company was fined $150,000 for permit, dust and opacity violations. “That was separate from the Jan. 19 settlement agreement with this department,” Ward says.

Gentles wouldn’t comment on the previous violation.

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