ADEQ hosts hearing for temporary aquifer permit for Florence Copper Project

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Curis color.tif

Jarrell Southall of Brown and Caldwell talks with a mine opponent. (Chase Kamp photo)

By Mila Lira

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality held a public information meeting regarding the permit that Curis Florence Copper Project has submitted.

Curis has requested a Temporary Individual Aquifer Protection Permit (APP). The temporary permit if approved by ADEQ will allow Curis to build and use an in-situ injection/extraction site on 2.2 acres of on State Land within Curis property and will only be used for pilot tests and short term projects it will not apply to any commercial operations. The temporary permit will only be effective for one year and will have a one year renewal.

In order for ADEQ to approve the permit, Curis must prove that they are meeting the following criteria: Best Available Demonstrated Control, Points of Compliance (POCs) wells to assure nor exceedance of Aquifer Water Quality Standards (AWQS), Financial Assurance Demonstration and Technical Capability Demonstration. Based on the information provided by ADEQ if the application and proposed processes meet the qualifications the agency will considers approving the application. In addition to the ADEQ temporary permit, the company will also have to apply for and be approved for a separate permit called an Underground Injections Control Permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Curis must have both the APP and the EPA permit to discharge. During the presentation it was explained that ADEQ and the EPA are in close communication over both applications processes.

The meeting held last week was well attended by both local and regional residents both in support for the project and against the project.

Jerry Smit from ADEQ facilitated the meeting and explained that the meeting was only an informational open house not a public hearing for forum. Smit did oblige the crowd at the end of the meeting for a few questions and answers. Those questions quickly turned into shouts and accusations primarily made by those in the projects opposition.

One resident in favor of the project shouted that “Florence’s water already is bad.” She also expressed the need for jobs in the area.

The permit from ADEQ will require an official public comment period but due to the process set forth by Arizona State Administrative Code regarding Water Pollution Control the public comment period is only allowed for 30 days following the approval of the permit.

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