Brownfields/Land Reuse Program

Arizona Brownfields/Land Reuse Projects

Flowing Wells Project

Flowing wells is a community in an unincorporated portion of Pima County, AZ. Pima County designated the site as a Community Target Area. When compared to Pima County as a whole, the area has higher rates of Female Heads of Household, Low-Moderate Income, Individuals below Poverty Level, and Lower Median Income. The targeted area covers about 3.1 square miles.

Land use includes, commercial properties, residences, vacant land, and a railroad. The area has flexible zoning and some industrial development near the frontage road along I-10. Sites in the area include abandoned transport and fuel depots; underutilized storage and warehouse facilities; and vacant parcels with unknown previous uses. The vacant lots have become dumping grounds for used industrial equipment, trash, junked cars, and other unsightly or unsafe debris.

Potential contaminants that are associated with railroad and industrial sites include arsenic, lead, and other metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, PAHs, and PCBs.

Old Fort Lowell Restoration Project

The site consists of a 5 acre parcel located at 5460 E Fort Lowell Road, Tucson, AZ. The site is surrounded by private residences to the south and west. The City of Tucson owns and rents out apartments adjacent to the north.

The site was developed in the 1870's as a portion of the U.S. Army's Camp Lowell post, later called Fort Lowell. Located on the site were three officer quarters, kitchens, privies, cotton wood lane, adjunct office, a bake house, a guard house, and a parade ground. The post was abandoned in 1891 and was used as a TB sanitarium beginning in 1905. In 1928, a family purchased the property continued to run the TB sanitarium and ran a steel and tank manufacturing company from 1934 to 2006. In addition, the family operated a trucking company from this site. The manufacturing operations impacted approximately 2 acres with PAH's and metals above residential soil remediation levels established by the state of Arizona.

In 2006, the city acquired the site in a land swap with a developer to preserve the historic resources and incorporate this 5.5 acre site into the City's larger, existing Fort Lowell Historic Park. The unoccupied site is secured with fencing, lighting, and a caretaker. The 70 years of manufacturing operations on the property caused significant environmental impairment. Operations included cutting, bending, welding, and grinding steel in the manufacturing of steel tanks. A diesel fuel aboveground storage tank, a 3,000 gallon gasoline underground storage tank, a 450-gallon diesel fuel UST, numerous 55-gallon drums, and other containers were located on the site. Significant amounts of debris, equipment, and material stockpiles were stored on the site, including vehicles, parts, batteries, appliances, metal tanks and scrap metal Soil staining, metal debris, and granular materials likely associated with metal grinding, sanding, or cutting activities were observed in many locations. An existing septic tank was reportedly placed in the former location of a cesspool containing oily liquids.

Initial soil sampling results showed that levels of PAH's, arsenic, and lead exceeded residential soil remediation levels. The areas of contamination are concentrated around the former shop building, and several former storage areas. The contaminated areas encompass approximately 2 acres to a depth of less than one foot.

To protect public health, ADHS provided a letter supporting the city's decision restricting public assess to the site prior to remedial actions. ADHS performed a Health ConsultationPDF to evaluate potential health effects from site contamination.

Old Tungsten Mill Project

City of Tucson officials had planned to build a park, on a 21 acre parcel of land they owned west of Silverbell Road and north of Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. This location has several identifiers: Old Tungsten Mill Site, Ore Mill Site, General Instruments Site and finally, the Painted Hills Natural Resource Park.

Records indicate that during World War II, Arthur Jacobs entered into a contract with the U.S. military to process tungsten. Tungsten is a strategic metal and is used as an alloy to "harden" other metals, used to make armor and artillery shells. The location of the actual tungsten mine from which the ore was taken is unknown. Typically, an ore mill is a facility, which crushes the mined material then concentrates the ore by various processes including floatation and chemical treatments. During this time period, chemicals such as mercury or cyanide were commonly used to aid in the removal of metal from the ore. There is no evidence that heating or smelting tungsten ore occurred at this site. Because there were only small amounts of slag, tailings, and other mining waste materials, this facility probably was not in operation very long.

After an initial review of the site, the city found high levels of contaminants in the soil. An article ran in the Arizona Daily Star on 8/30/2006 describing the discovery of high concentrations of arsenic and lead in the soil of the proposed park. Citizens in neighboring areas expressed concern for their health. The ADHS Risk Assessment & Health Consultation Program offered assistance to the city. In response to community concern, ADHS performed a Health ConsultationPDF to evaluate possible health effects from potential exposure to contaminants in soil if the land were to be re-developed with or without proper remediation.

For future adult recreational users, ADHS made the following conclusions: Without remediation, arsenic, lead and tungsten exposures from walking or exercising at the Old Tungsten Mill site are not expected to result in non-cancerous harmful health effects among adults. No significant increase in cancer would be expected for the people recreating for long periods in the area.

For future child recreational users, ADHS made the following conclusions: Future redevelopment of the property as a recreational park area is likely to encourage access to the property, particular to young children who may be at a greater risk for exposure to site contaminants. Without remediation, these conditions will pose a future public health hazard to children and pica children. Pica children could get acute arsenic toxicity from a one-time exposure at soil hot spots. Lead concentrations in surface soil at the site could present a health concern to children who frequently play in areas with high concentrations.

ADHS attended a public meeting and presented the results of the Health Consultation to community members. A contractor for the city of Tucson is nearing completion of a plan for an engineering control. The city's next phases for the site include implementing the engineered control, and redevelopment into a natural resource park.