Yavapai County Board of Supervisors were sued today to stop the construction of their jail because of environmental concerns. An emergency motion was filed by activist investigative journalist Bill Williams, a Cronkite Journalism school graduate with decades of reporting experience who lives in Prescott Valley, AZ.
A Yavapai County judge will determine a hearing date no later than Friday (Sept. 4th) according to the Yavapai County Court Clerk-Supervisor. [Update: Judge pro tem Thomas Kelly has been assigned to the case.]
Williams’ lawsuit alleges he received a leaked environmental report written for the County by Speedie Associates of Phoenix, AZ. which describes more than a dozen pollutants on the construction site along with a former yet closed landfill, septic tanks, water wells plus reports of underground storage tanks that used to contain pollutants.
The land is on ground overlooking Granite Creek which feeds into Prescott’s water recharge system via Watson Lake. The environmental report contains topographic maps which clearly show how pollutants could go downhill or downwind into housing subdivisions and Granite Creek and the lake.
In addition, the 360 page environmental report has not been shown to taxpayers of Yavapai County, according to Williams.
“I have been out to the site and it’s a disgrace,” said Williams. “Under the U.S. Environmental Protection laws and Arizona environmental statutes, any government entity who receives an environmental report like this is supposed to inform the public, but the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors is hiding the document and proceeding with bulldozing.”
The bulldozing began on August 24, just six days after Williams says he warned the County supervisors he would sue them.
The environmental report says in 2011, now deceased county supervisor Carol Springer had the treasurer cut a check for $2.1 million to a “Mr and Mrs Keith Bunker” for the purchase of the land. The environmental engineering firm, Speedie and Associates claim in their environmental report that there are so many questions about the 14 acre parcel that they searched for the Bunker family and could not find them. The property used to have a sawmill and truck stop, salvage yard and parts storage used by Bunker and other previous owners. The environmental report says the grounds contain volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, chromium, di-n-butyl phthalate and other particulates.
“The report says environmental remediation is not complete and recommends numerous processes to clean up the pollution,” says Williams.
Two investigators from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Michelle Ogburn and Katherine Phillips were at the site today and began an investigation, and spoke to Williams on the scene.
Williams cannot afford an attorney and is proceeding on his own with the lawsuit.
William E (Bill) Williams can be reached for comment at 816.804.4162 (mobile).
The motion is available below.