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More water contamination found in Tucson

TUCSON — The City of Tucson is suing a company it says is responsible for toxic chemicals found in local wells. Now officials say they’re finding more contaminants.

“In the last several weeks we have found significant contamination of PFCs’ out by the Air National Guard. The EPA standard…Is 70 parts per trillion,” Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “The contamination levels that we’re finding out by the Air National Guard are over 11,000 parts per trillion.”

Kozachik said the location of the contamination is immediately upstream of the central well field in midtown.

“The good news for water customers in Tucson is that we are not serving contaminated water. The contamination that we found out by the air national guard is near to the surface,” Kozachik said. “It’s not down in our well system. The issue then you need to contain it now before it gets down into the aquifer. Before it gets down in a situation where that plume is moving toward our central well field.”

The contamination is believed to be caused by a firefighting foam manufactured by 3M. Kozachik said the foam is still being used by the 162nd wing in Tucson.

“We know they’re still using this stuff because they worked with Tucson Fire and were spraying this fire fighting foam on public land to put out a brush fire,” Kozachik said. “This was this year so we know that they’re still using this stuff.”

News Four Tucson reached out to officials with the Arizona Air National Guard about the contamination.

Arizona Air National Guard Public Affairs Officer Capt Erika Jaramillo gave us the following statement from the 162nd Wing.

The safety and health of our Airmen, their families, and our community partners is our priority. We live in the communities we serve, and we share community concerns regarding PFOS and PFAS. PFOS and PFOA were widely used chemicals from a wide population of military and civilian users. As such, the addressing of PFOS and PFOA contamination must be a whole-of-government approach involving state and federal government entities.

We are committed to following the CERCLA clean-up process at Air Force release sites to evaluate unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. Individual release sites may result in a range of response and clean-up actions that are prioritized with the Air Force environmental program. The Air Force will continue to partner with local communities, state regulatory authorities, federal interagency partners and Congress to comply with environmental protection law. The Air Force is proud to be a leader in the response to PFOS/PFOA contamination, and we will continue to work with our neighbors, regulators, and elected officials to protect human health and our environment.

While the city of Tucson is working to hold 3M responsible for the contamination that potentially is costing millions for Tucson Water ratepayers, Kozachik believes others should also be responsible.

“We have got to get the Air National Guard, the Department of Defense, the state of Arizona on board in putting together a remediation and containment policy and they need to pay for it,” Kozachik said.

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Denelle Confair

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