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Eﬀorts to control the dust problem along Interstate 10 East of Wilcox appear to be working, but there is still more work to be done.
A Scottsdale company called Soilworks is applying a topic solution called Gorilla-Snot to the topsoil to hold it in place when the wind kicks up. There have been three accidents in the area between Bowie and San Simon, including a 14-vehicle pileup caused by dust blowing oﬀ a ﬁeld which was cleared to plant pecan trees.
Some of the ﬁeld has been planted but 640 acres remain barren, and when the wind hits about 20 mph, it kicks up enough dust to close the interstate.
Winds gusted to 20 mph on Friday, May 20, but as of late in the afternoon, did not disturb the topsoil.
For public health and safety reasons, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is taking steps to mitigate the risk of accidents. It’s paying Soilworks $200,000 to treat 320 acres with the Gorilla-Snot, and so far so good.
“So far it’s working great,” said Luke Short, who is on site overseeing the operation. “The portion we treated is working great.”
The work should be done by Saturday night and then a second company, hired and paid for by the property owner, will treat the remaining 320 acres.
A company called National Land Management will begin mitigation eﬀorts Sunday, May 22.
The company said it will be using another substance, not Gorilla-Snot, but said it should work as well. The real test will come when winds pick up over the weekend.
They are predicted to gust to 40 mph.
The Gorilla-Snot is mixed with water, which determines it strength.
ADEQ requested a mixture to hold in winds up to 25 mph sustained, and to last for six months.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety sat roadside throughout the day Friday measuring the wind velocity and watching what dust did kick up. Even though some did, it was not enough to close the interstate.
DPS is hoping the situation is resolved before the busy Memorial Day holiday. “We have our ﬁngers crossed,” said Sgt. Stewart Shupe, who patrols the area.