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
NameInnovative Waste Utilization unit in South Phoenix, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteSouth 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 CommoditiesDrug lab waste- methamphetamine
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details83% minority population within 3 mile radius of facility

7 hazardous waste facilities in South Phoenix

630,000 pounds of waste removed and properly disposed of following shut-down of facility. Estimated that removal cost the state $500,000.
Project Area (in hectares)1.6
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population1,000-95,000
Start Date1999
End Date23/02/2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesIndustrial 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 actorsArizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersConcerned Residents of South Phoenix (CRSP); Don't Waste Arizona Inc; The Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
City developed an ordinance against expansion
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution
OtherIncreased odor
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
OtherLead contamination
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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


[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
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, [email protected] and [email protected]
Last update07/05/2015