The Queen Creek Landfill was closed in 2007.
Queen Creek Town Council met behind closed doors Aug. 17 in an executive session, which is not open to the public to discuss the contractual agreements between Maricopa County and the municipality in regard to the Queen Creek Landfill, the meeting agenda states.
“There is some litigation and I am not going to comment on that,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said in an Aug. 30 phone interview.
The town of Queen Creek had enlisted Allied Waste to operate the landfill and in doing so may be indemnified from any legal action or fees imposed because of the alleged violations, according to Marnie Schubert, town spokeswoman.
“Similar (notices of violations) were also issued to the Maricopa County Solid Waste Department, which owns the landfill, and Allied Waste, which operated the landfill for some time before the landfill was closed,” she explained in an Aug. 30 e-mailed statement. “In its response to the NOV, the town indicated that it believed that no violations occurred at the landfill, and that, in the event the existence of any violations is established, the town is not liable because of contractual arrangements that the town made with the Maricopa Solid Waste Department and Allied Waste.”
Ms. Schubert says Allied Waste has agreed to indemnify and defend the town in this matter when original notices were provided to the town.
“The town is not responsible for anything that has happened there,” she said.
Cari Gerchick, Maricopa County spokeswoman, says the issues of violations at the Queen Creek Landfill have been numerous over the last decade and work is being done to resolve the matter.
“This action, the problem with the Queen Creek Landfill has been documented for some time and it has simply reached the point that we need to get all of the parties together to solve the problem,” she said in an Aug. 30 phone interview. “That is what we are working to do.”
While Ms. Gerchick contends no immediate air-quality issues exist for both Queen Creek and San Tan Valley residents, she also says these policies are in place for a reason.
“You can’t ignore federal and state standards and we have to move forward to a solution for these long-standing problems,” she said. “I haven’t seen health effects mentioned in here, but they have put these regulations in place to prevent that. I have not seen anything that the public needs to be concerned with from a health perspective.”
Who will ultimately be responsible for violations and legal action and/or fees assessed could be any entity that was involved in operations including the town of Queen Creek, Allied Waste and the Maricopa County Solid Waste Department, Ms. Gerchick says.
“Actually, I would think anyone that had a hand in operating the landfill could theoretically have some kind of liability,” she said. “County departments, municipalities and companies need to follow regulations.”
With long-standing issues and violations spanning a decade’s time, Ms. Gerchick says she does not know why the problems have gone unattended. “Why it took so long, I can’t answer that question,” she said. “Hopefully, we will find a solution.”
Bruce Bartholomew, Maricopa County chief of staff for the office of Supervisor Fulton Brock, called the violations and repercussions “pretty hefty.”
“Solid waste got legal counsel and air quality have gotten legal counsel. What they are trying to do is determine at what date the landfill was found to be in violation,” he said in an Aug. 30 phone interview. “When exactly it was that the landfill was out of compliance for the federal statutes. The ramifications are pretty significant.”
Supervisor Brock’s district on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors includes the town of Queen Creek.
“I know that air quality and solid waste (departments) are discussing the notice of violations and trying to come to a resolution,” Mr. Bartholomew said noting the town of Queen Creek has not been mentioned in discussions of liability. “I have not heard that anyone is making Queen Creek responsible for any of the notices of violations.”
Placing blame for the alleged violations will be a “legal call,” Mr. Bartholomew says.
“To be honest with you I have not heard of that downward spiral of responsibility,” he said. “That may be discussed in private — who will be deemed responsible.”
According to Mr. Bartholomew, no timeline has been identified of when the matter will be resolved.
Notice of Violations
According to a Feb. 23 written notice of violation, Maricopa County Air Quality Department alleges the following violations:
- Failure to comply with the permitting provisions for Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about June 10, 1996
- Failure to submit a collection and control system design plan for Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about June 10, 1997
- Failure to install a collection and control system for Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about Dec. 10, 1998
- Failure to route all collection gas to a control system for the Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about Dec. 10, 1998
- Failure to submit a closure report for Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about June 30, 2007
- Failure to submit an initial design capacity report for Queen Creek Landfill by the required date on or about June 10, 1996
- Failure to submit an annual emission rate for the Queen Creek Landfill by the required date beginning on or about June 10, 1996 until a landfill gas collection and control system is operating
- Failure to comply with the federal regulations on or about Jan. 16, 2003
- Failure to submit compliance reports every six months for Queen Creek Landfill by required date beginning on or about July 16, 2003
- Failure to develop a written startup, shutdown and malfunction plan for Queen Creek Landfill by required date on or about Jan. 16, 2003
- Failure to submit an initial notification of applicability for federal air quality standards by required date on or about May 16, 2003
- Failure to limit gaseous or odorous air contaminants from Queen Creek Landfill in such quantities or concentrations to cause air pollution by required date on or about Dec. 10, 1998 when the landfill gas collection and control system was to have been installed.
Source: Maricopa County Air Quality Department notice of violation