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Innovative Waste Utilization unit in South Phoenix, USA


Innovative Waste Utilization, LLC (IWU) located in South Phoenix, Arizona was shut down after a drug bust on February 26, 2003. The day following the raid, the ADEQ ordered closure of the plant which suspended the facility’s hazardous waste permit [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Innovative Waste Utilization unit in South Phoenix, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Arizona
Location of conflict:South Phoenix
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Drug lab waste- methamphetamine
Project Details and Actors
Project details

83% minority population within 3 mile radius of facility

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Project area:1.6
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1,000-95,000
Start of the conflict:1999
End of the conflict:23/02/2003
Company names or state enterprises:Industrial Waste Utilization (IWU) from United States of America - Developer of the facility
Innovative Waste Utilization (IWU) from United States of America - Owner of hazardous waste facility
Relevant government actors:Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Concerned Residents of South Phoenix (CRSP); Don't Waste Arizona Inc; The Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
City developed an ordinance against expansion
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution
Other Environmental impactsIncreased odor
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsLead contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Grassroots activism and support of environmental groups and the City helped prevent expansion of the facility.
Federal and state investigations led to drug busts at the facility which resulted in its ultimate and final closure. While not the result of activism, this is still an environmental justice success. The events surrounding this facility brought people in the neighborhood together with larger environmental groups to continue to fight against the remaining hazardous waste facilities in their community.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

City of Phoenix Zoning Ordinance ordinance G-4269 revised May 17, 2000
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] University of Michigan Environmental Justice Case Study by Sarah Brooks December 2000: Innovative Waste Utilization and the Concerned Residents of South Phoenix, Arizona
[click to view]

[3] Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City by Andrew Ross, Nov 3 2011
[click to view]

[4] Arizona: Teaching about Arizona's water, waste, mining and climate change since 2014_Univ Wisconsin-Madison Intro to Environmental Studies Course
[click to view]

[5] EPA ECHO Detailed Facility Report: IWU
[click to view]

[7] ADEQ Newsroom: Press Release Archive June 23 2005_ Innovative Waste Utilization Drops Appeal of Permit Revocation
[click to view]

[1] Press Release Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich: Arizona AG gets search warrant for Innovate Waste Utilization sister corporation in California- March 2, 2003
[click to view]

Other documents

[8] ADEQ Timeline 1987-2007
[click to view]

[6] ADEQ FY 2001 Hazardous Waste Inspections and Enforcement Report
[click to view]

[9] National Archives and Records Administration Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 52, Wednesday March 17, 2004_ Rules and Regulations See p. 12545 for piece about 2000 lawsuit against ADEQ
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, [email protected] and [email protected]
Last update07/05/2015
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