KVOA Ch 4 NBC Tucson - State Agencies Hoping for no More Dust From San Simon Field
KVOA Ch 4 NBC Tucson Staff
SAN SIMON - With wind in the forecast, state officials are watching to see if the ‘Gorilla-Snot®' crews sprayed on a dusty field along I-10 near San Simon is working. So far, it has been quiet.
Over the last several weeks, blowing dust from the field shut down the highway nearly 10 times.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality stepped in recently, after it said the farmer, David Turner, was too slow to act.
ADEQ contracted the company Soilworks® to take care of the 320 acres closest to the interstate. Workers finished applying 44,000 gallons of its product ‘Gorilla-Snot’ on Saturday.
The company said this glue-like dust control product is biodegradable and should keep the soil down for 6 to 12 months.
ADEQ is footing the $200,000 bill, for now.
"The priority for the AZ Dept. of Environmental quality at this stage is public health and public safety," said Caroline Oppleman, an ADEQ spokesperson. "Any matters involving finances or recovery remain to be seen. We have not proceeded with any fines, but we certainly reserve the right to do so."
The Department of Public Safety has been monitoring conditions since the problem began. It is not currently seeking reimbursement either.
ADEQ said the farmer has taken over spraying the remaining 320 acres. Sources say he has hired another dust control company, National Land Management, to do the work. That portion should be finished Tuesday.
Turner has also been instructed to plant a cover crop between the rows of planned pistachio trees, and limit disturbing large portions of the land in the future. The ADEQ said it will be there to oversee the progress.
"Please, please reach out if you need any resources. That is what we are here for. We want to ensure that we share our expertise, and we also encourage specifically the agricultural community that they speak to each other," said Oppleman. "Sometimes when people move in from out of town and they're not familiar with the conditions here and are maybe processes, we always recommend you talk to your neighbors, but we also are happy to be a resource and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions."