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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Flouride Rule in Prescott, Ariz., Spurs Lawsuit

(CN) - An Arizona town's new fluoride standards for effluent could kill a local business that reclaims silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry, it claims in Federal Court.

Pure Wafer says that the city of Prescott's newly adopted fluoride limit of 16.3 mg/L, and the threat of fines of up to $25,000 per day for violations, threatens to upset a 16-year development agreement between it and the small town located in the mountains about two hours north of Phoenix.

Prescott adopted the ordinance in late May to comply with its state-issued Aquifer Protection Permit (APP), but Pure Wafer claims that the city is merely trying to stiff someone else with the costs of new infrastructure it now has to build.

Pure Wafer opened a $45 million silicon wafer reclamation facility in Prescott in 1998 based on a agreement that the city would "accept each day up to 195,000 gallons of effluent which could contain fluoride of up to 100 mg/L," according to the lawsuit.

The company says that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality inspected its facilities in 2012 and found "no significant deficiencies." It also claims that it has for several years discharged effluent with fluoride concentrations of about 40 mg/L, well below the level required in its agreement with the city.

Prescott's new ordinance allegedly calls for an 84 percent reduction from that allowed in the agreement.

"This could possibly put the facility out of business with a loss of 115 jobs and an annual payroll of $5.7 million," according to the lawsuit.

The company added that the "ordinance will cause irreparable harm to Pure Wafer, including but not limited to termination of Pure Wafer's discharge of effluent into the city's sewer system and severance of water supply from the city's water system, rendering it impossible for Pure Wafer to operate the facility."

Prescott could construct a "pre-treatment facility" that would allow it to comply with the agreement and its aquifer protection permit, but instead it is attempting to put the burden on Pure Wafer, according to the complaint.

Pure Wafer seeks an injunction against the ordinance and a declaration that it violates the agreement. Pure Wafer also wants an injunction requiring the city to "construct such additional pre-treatment facilities as may be required for the city to comply with its APP and to pay all costs of operating such facilities."

It is represented by K. Layne Morrill in Phoenix.

A Prescott spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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