RIGHT TO HARM
screening in Arizona with some attention to Tonopah
ARIZONA FILM FESTIVAL
April 14th @ 3pm
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY SCREENING
April 23rd @ 7pm
People in the small unincorporated town of Tonopah discovered in 2014 that an egg
factory was planned in their community. They found out Hickman's Family Farms,
which had been forced out of Glendale when it had just a few hundred thousand chickens,
had purchased 360 acres in their town and had received an agricultural exemption for the
property. Hickman's was planning to construct a Concentrated Animal Feed Operation
(CAFO), with a population of millions of chickens. It was projected, at full build out, to
house 12 million chickens, making it one of the largest in terms of population in the
entire United States.
In response, they organized and created STOPP: Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant,
and became a 501 c 3 non-profit.
STOPP started their opposition to it by attending meetings to oppose it, publicizing their
concerns, and by filing an anticipatory nuisance lawsuit against the facility. They found
their government at all levels stymied their efforts. They never even got a hearing on that
lawsuit before the facility had started construction and began filling the barns with
chickens, so they had it dismissed. (Several other nuisance lawsuits have been filed now
by groups of citizens and local landowners, and these are still pending.) The stench from
the Hickman's Tonopah facility can travel for miles, and is often especially bad at night
and in the mornings. People are unable to be outside due to the stench and the millions of
flies that are attracted by the strong odors.
STOPP approached the EPA, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
(ADEQ), and the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) about their
concerns. The extreme odors, dust, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from the
facility, were ignored or the agencies failed to respond. Sometimes, representatives from
these agencies were untruthful. About 1/3 of all odor complaints to MCAQD were from
people in Tonopah. STOPP fought Hickman's air pollution permits and demanded that
the full amount of pollution from Hickman's be addressed in permitting, and that a Title
V permit (major source of pollution) for the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) --
ozone precursors - be required. Despite expert testimony, MCAQD refused to require the
Title V air pollution permit. STOPP is now raising the money to bring a Title V citizen
suit in federal court to require this permit. A Title V permit requires 24/7 air monitoring
and large reductions in pollution.
In October 2016, using conservative amounts of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide releases
emissions from both the Tonopah and Arlington facilities, and underestimating the actual
amounts of these chemical releases by about 1/3, the ADEQ modeled the ammonia and
hydrogen sulfide emissions from both the Tonopah and Arlington facilities. The
modeling still showed reasons for concern.
The federal standard for chronic exposure to hydrogen sulfide is 0.001 ppm = 0.000001
Results of H 2 S Concentration
The federal standard for chronic exposure to ammonia is 0.1 ppm = 72 µg/m3.
Results of NH3 Concentrations
STOPP joined with Don't Waste Arizona in petitioning the Agency for Toxic Substances
and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to monitor the air in Tonopah and Arlington, site of an
even larger Hickman's facility, for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. Some of the air
monitoring for hydrogen sulfide by Hickman's showed levels above the levels
recommended by the federal government. People often complained about smelling
ammonia and rotten egg odors, but the level of harm from chronic exposure to these
hazardous chemicals is lower the threshold for odor detection. The ADEQ conducted air
monitoring for these chemicals in an effort to thwart the ATSDR's air monitoring and to
protect the polluter. Congressman Andy Biggs also tried to intervene to prevent the air
monitoring. When ADEQ conducted its monitoring, Hickman's Tonopah cleared out
some of the barns and artificially lowered the emissions of these during that timeframe.
STOPP still is fighting for Tonopah, clean and healthy air, and an end to the odors.