Fisher Sand & Gravel shuts down asphalt plant


PHOENIX -- “It's just hell, it's just like living in hell right here.”

Not exactly the way anyone wants to describe their home, but Ken Jameson tells 3 On Your Side, that's the reality for neighbors living near Fisher Sand and Gravel.

“See the dirt, and you can imagine what I go through on the inside,” Jameson said.

Homes and cars have caked-on dirt. Trees are coated in dust. Jameson even keeps a face mask right outside his front door.

“We don't know what we breathing, and there's no way to find out because they won't tell us anything,” he said.

"They" are the people at Fisher Sand and Gravel located on 28th Street near Broadway Road.

The North Dakota-based company runs this asphalt plant which neighbors say can frequently be seen spewing heavy dust, smoke and a hot asphalt odor.

“There's something desperately wrong here.”

Environmental watchdog Steve Brittle is one of many who've complained about the plant since it opened four years ago.

Since then, Fisher has racked up about 2,000 violations notices from the city and county.

Last month, the City of Phoenix filed 467 criminal charges against the company, carrying fines of up to $20,000 a piece.

The most surprising of the charges accuse Fisher of operating an asphalt mixing plant without obtaining a permit.

“When you burn halogenated hydrocarbons, which is really oil with the halogens in it, you get dioxins, you get furins, you get some of the most toxic cancer agents known to man,” Brittle explained.

Fisher Sand and Gravel's spokesperson tells 3 On Your Side the company voluntarily shut down the plant last week.

“Why is that?” our producer asked.

“Well we felt like we needed to do so in a good faith effort really to work with the city and the community to really address the issues,” spokesperson Karl Gentles said.

Gentles says the company is doing everything it can to make things right, legally and with the community, and that they are still seeking a permit for the asphalt plant.

“Did Fisher make some mistakes? I think that's clear some mistakes were made. Are we working today to correct those issues? We absolutely are,” Gentles said.

But those who live near Fisher are skeptical.

While activity at the plant has slowed, the fight is still picking up steam.

“Nothing's still being done for the community,” Jameson said. “Nothing for none of the neighbors, you know, for the people that live here. So we don't know what's going to happen.”

The lawsuit does not affect Fisher's Sand and Gravel operation.

Fisher is appealing nearly 1,500 violations notices.

[RELATED: Tempe company picked to build concrete prototype of border wall has troubled past]

NOTE: This story originally ran on 3TV on March 1, 2010.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.