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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local September 30, 2014

7/20/2013 6:00:00 AM
ADEQ fines Pure Wafer $120,000 for not having air quality permit

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) reported Friday that Pure Wafer Inc. has agreed to pay $120,000 in civil penalties for not having an air quality permit at its Prescott facility.

According to an ADEQ news release, officials with the state department observed an emission from an onsite stack during an inspection at the Pure Wafer facility. The emission was determined to be hydrogen fluoride.

"The inspection also revealed that the facility did not have an air quality permit," the news release stated. "Pure Wafer acquired the facility but did not obtain a permit before or after the purchase."

Since the inspection, Pure Wafer has applied for a permit, which was issued on Jan. 2, 2013, the news release stated. In addition to identifying air pollution emissions limitations, the permit contains the necessary monitoring, record keeping and reporting requirements for the facility.

"Permits are important to ensure that air pollution equipment is installed and functioning properly," ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said. "Pure Wafer worked quickly and cooperatively with us to obtain a permit after receiving the notice of violation."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists hydrogen fluoride as a hazardous air pollutant, the news release stated, adding, "Acute inhalation exposure can cause severe respiratory damage and pulmonary edema."

Pure Wafer, whose headquarters are in the United Kingdom, prepares reclaimed silicon test wafers for the semiconductor industry.

The ADEQ release added that the consent judgment is subject to court approval.

In another recent matter concerning Pure Wafer, the Prescott City Council approved an ADEQ consent order this past May that required the city to deal with high levels of fluoride in its treated sewage. The city attributed the fluoride problem to discharges from Pure Wafer, which uses hydrofluoric acid to scrub the wafers for recycling.

The consent order gave the city a year to rectify the fluoride exceedances and implement wastewater pretreatment activities.

At that time, city officials said they were discussing a possible solution with Pure Wafer (formerly Exsil, Inc.), and a company official said there were "interpretation differences" over the requirements of a 1997 development agreement between the city and company.

Next week, the Prescott City Council will discuss the matter during a Tuesday closed-door executive session. The meeting agenda states that the council would receive legal advice regarding the Exsil/Pure Wafer development agreement.

Related Stories:
• City attorney: Cost of outside legal counsel is confidential

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Winters

Let's get the facts right. The violation states Exsil / Pure Wafers ran with out a minor Class 2 permit that they were told they did no require back in 1997. Once notified they required a permit they applied for it, obtained it and paid back fees. They never discharged Hydro Fluoride Gases and have a State of the Art treatment system unlike other industry.
Pure Wafer was lobbied to move to Prescott by our past council and staff who signed a Development Agreement that covers Jobs, Wages and Water and Sewer Rights. Past article stated Pure Wafer employees 110 employees with a Payroll of $5.7 million dollars with Great Benefits. No industry is with out issues but we need more of it for our kids other then retail and flipping burgers.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: At Re: Sad for Prescott Facts vs Questions

It sounds like you are trying to make statements and not questions, so here is my take on them:

Is $8.00 an hour a good paying job? Every business has the right to determine what their pay scale is going to be and there are many factors that go into that. Why does everyone think they are owed more than they are worth? Experience, skill level along with many other abilities will and should determine your pay, not just that you think you should be paid more.

How do you know if this company had any types of spills and in particular any spill that warranted any type of regulatory action? The same applies to the "accident” question, what is considered an accident that is reportable? Every business has a labor safety organization of some form that it must comply with and report to based on their standards.

Your last question is the one I find most intriguing. Why does that always seem to be what people, who don't like a particular business, use in their debate? So let me get this straight if anyone who works somewhere gets ill and the doctor cannot explain why.....then it must be from where they work. Wow, modern science....we've come so far. Really!

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: @ Sad for Prescott

I agree with your comments it truly is sad that those who do not know what they are talking about can raise that kind of hysteria. They live for spreading fear where fear should not exist.

Of course there are unsafe conditions, chemicals, hazards, etc., that surround us in every aspect of our daily lives yet when controlled correctly it is not detrimental to you, I or to our community.

For those of you who live by the "sky is falling" philosophy, here's an idea while you're living in your la-la land (which of course is outdoors, because there are so many dangerous and hazardous building materials), don't use any kind of detergents or cleaners, raise every single item you eat, make your own clothes, furniture and appliances and walk everywhere and on and on all while singing kum ba yah and maybe (just maybe) we might take you seriously.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: journalism 201

Article identifies issue of concern to many but omits location or address of business responsible for the issue.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: AZ to SEA

For those of you who seem to know everything about places such as China, India, etc., but have not actually been to any of them here is a little info from someone who has. Yes, these countries have health/environment issues and they recognize it however unlike in our country, their respective governments are working with the individual industries to bring in new technology to improve those issues. They do it without putting un-realistic regulations and out of this world permit fees that our government has done and continues to do.

At one time, we were the envy of all industrialized nations and one of those reasons was the ability to
manufacture. Our ability to be the leader in manufacturing is now hampered by governmental agencies, environmental groups, personal political agendas along with complex regulations and lengthy permitting schedules. I know there are industries that have come into question in regards to their environmental issues but the difference is that here in the US, our government would rather shut them down or dream-up new regulations that haven’t been truly researched and then give them a very limited time to come into compliance or else. Sorry, but that doesn’t sound like a government that is willing to help, which in the long run would keep jobs here in the US.

So for those of you who always claim that these other countries are just so awful guess what, when they have brought their industries up to our standards (with the support and guidance of their government) they will have both clean air, water and all the manufacturing jobs. You think we have high unemployment now, picture how much higher it could go if our government keeps going down the path that is…..more government agencies, less business. Ni-Hao!

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: Re: Sad for Prescott Facts vs. Questions

Exsil Inc. opened the plant in Prescott in the 4th quarter of 1997.
The plant was sold to Pure Wafer in 2007.
Is $8.00 dollars an hour a "good" paying job?
How many times have they had spills before that did not make the headlines?
How many on site accidents have been recorded?
How many employees have illnesses that are unexplained?

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: Relocate To China

...or India and all worries about regulations concerning the air will go away.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: Sad for Prescott

Let us jump to conclusions that this company is poisoning us without any facts. Lets put them out of business in spite of facts like the hydrogen fluoride levels they released were in safe levels. We should also ignore that this same chemical is created by a large number of businesses and even some hobbies (check out the CDC website). We should also not allow glass etching because it may result in the release of the same chemical. Maybe we should listen to the uninformed and believe the sky is falling and put all businesses out of business. The company in question is a green company that recycles material used in the production of microchips. Not a producer but a recycler only. Please gather facts before alarming people into spasms. Save the good jobs for Prescott, don't let the uninformed alarmists ruin our home.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

I saw how AQMD in California squeezed permit fees out of every company and didn't even bother to inspect if the work had been done. A reasonable balance between safety and efficiency must be made. We are now measuring into the Billions the contaminants contained in the earth and our water supply. Arizona needs to protect life with safe standards but there is safety and there is punitive measures. In support of local measures to clean up discharges, it should require the source of the pollutants to do the clean up as that is the point for the easiest capture. Let common sense and science solve these problems and keep politics out. Rural Arizona needs good paying jobs that are sustainable. We cannot draw or keep bright people through adding wholesale and retail businesses.

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: S M

Who in the city government got paid how much for permitting this pollution to go unchecked for years?

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: How Sweet It Is

Jobs at all costs. Killl us off with dangerous, deadly pollutants and someone can step in and get the job opening. Makes sense to idiots.

Prescott doesn't need that type of industry. The drug addict rehab facilitiy industry is the drawing card to Prescott now. Talk about polluting the environment and the town's image! How special is that?

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Sad for Prescott

This company is in compliance and when an error was found after purchasing the company they immediately made it right. Now the city wants to find a way through backdoor legal maneuvers to put an employer out of business? We should all gang up on the city council to hold them to the legal agreements and to keep good jobs here. Or do we send the jobs overseas? The city of Prescott should apologize and attempt to mend the relationship strained by there incompetent management.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Huggs Boson

What's a little hydrogen fluoride among friends?

Hydrogen fluoride is a highly dangerous gas, forming corrosive and penetrating hydrofluoric acid upon contact with tissue. The gas can also cause blindness by rapid destruction of the corneas.

If they are doing this to the air one wonders what they are doing to the water?

Has anyone checked that out?

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: to Beatrix K.

Truer words have never been spoken. ADEQ allows Asphalt plants 300 feet from residential communities. Why? because the owner of the property sits on the right hand of the Governor.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Beatrix K.

When will ADEQ be fined for all the illegal things it does, like the Rosemont copper mine permit scandal? Using junk science to allow sources to pollute, but only when they have powerful friends. ADEQ sucks.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Yukon Jack

I hope that Pure Wafer is compensating the city for the extra expense of treating the effluent. If they caused it and it can be proven to be responsible or it, they should pay for it. It's as simple as that... You broke it, you pay for it.

Requiring industry to not poison us is not an unreasonable demand.

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