From Tucson Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres (Ward 5). Please forward to as many people and groups as possible.
The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality will host an open house on the proposed Materion Ceramics, Inc. revised air quality operating permit on Thursday, Jan. 22, at Sunnyside High School, 1725 E. Bilby Road, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.
The Materion plant, the nation’s largest manufacturer of beryllium oxide products, is at 6100 S. Tucson Blvd., north of Valencia Road, in a residential neighborhood with numerous nearby schools.
Materion, formerly known as Brush Ceramics opened its ceramics manufacturing plant in Tucson in 1980. Since then, at least 35 of their Tucson employees have developed Chronic Beryllium Disease, and at least 5 have died. People had fears and concerns that the risk posed by the Brush Wellman plant isn't limited to its employees.
From the Arizona Daily Star article (January 18, 2015):
"In 2001, Brush Wellman agreed to pay a $145,000 fine for violating county air quality rules after an earlier inspection revealed a clothes dryer was illegally venting air to the outside. The drier laundered worker uniforms tainted with toxic beryllium dust.
"Back in 2006, Brush Ceramics and PDEQ signed an agreement calling on the company to pay to operate the monitors. The agreement was signed around the same time the county approved an earlier air-quality-permit revision. The agreement has already run out, however, meaning that the county would have to find another money source to keep operating the outside monitors if it doesn’t approve the permit revision as proposed.
"In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had paid $1.4 million to compensate or care for victims of that disease who worked at the site."
After the county holds an open house on Thursday and considers written comments, Pima Department of Environmental Quality Director Ursula Nelson will decide whether to approve the permit. If she does, the monitoring study the county has run for more than seven years for the site will be finalized, and the monitors will be shut down.
A group of concerned citizens were formed, called EJAG (the Environmental Justice Advocacy Group), and served as a watchdog organization to Brush's activities. For more information about EJAG and this plant in earlier years, go online to
It is important that Ward 5 residents, as well as across our City, weigh in on this issue by attending this meeting and speaking out for our environment and community. Also, those who can't attend the meeting can give public comment online at: