Rio Rico resident Randall Langham and his neighbors are to be commended for their efforts to rein in the months-long air and noise pollution created by Fisher Sand and Gravel’s asphalt operation on the CalPortland property in western Rio Rico. The Nogales International’s May 28 edition reported that some progress has been made in mitigating the problems. That’s good news.

All of us who live along the south-central corridor of I-19 should be happy that this stretch of the interstate is being resurfaced. But none of us should be pleased that our county’s general rural zoning regulations and protections have been superseded by a state mining permit originally granted to CalPortland that also allows a separate company to operate under the same permit. 

The NI reported on May 21 that county officials were working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to address the community’s complaints, and that County Supervisor Rudy Molera also suggested working with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Our Legislative District 2 representatives have also weighed in on the issue. However, their ability to recommend changes to state mining statutes appears to be a longer-term endeavor. 

This all begs the question: Who’s in charge, and did they actually plan a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded road improvement without factoring in the impact on any one neighborhood? Setting up an asphalt operation close to a job site to save time and money is all well and good. But not if it harms any one person.

Not if it harms our neighbors in Rio Rico. Elected officials, please take note. You need to convince ADOT that their contractors must effectively ameliorate the air and noise pollution issues they’ve created. Immediately. Not down the road.

Nan Fitzpatrick


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