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June 6th, 2024
Rep. Grijalva Praises Historic EPA PFAS Action to Protect Tucson Drinking Water

TUCSON, Ariz. – On Thursday, May 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Safe Drinking Water Act Section 1431 unilateral administrative order to the U.S. Air Force and the Arizona Air National Guard requiring them to meet their responsibilities to protect drinking water supplies in Tucson, including communities with environmental justice concerns. The Biden administration has taken this action under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which gives the EPA authority to act to protect drinking water resources where there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment.

The Order requires the Air Force and Arizona Air National Guard to conduct measures to abate the actual and potential imminent and substantial threat to the health of persons presented by the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (collectively “PFAS”) in groundwater underlying the Tucson Area Remediation Project (“TARP”) water well field, which serves as an important source of drinking water for the public water system that serves the City of Tucson.

PFAS concentrations in the relevant aquifer are as high as 53,000 parts per trillion (ppt) because of contamination from the U.S. Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the Tucson Airport Authority. Acceptable readings are 4ppt. The Order will require the U.S. Air Force to submit and implement a PFAS Water Treatment Plan to ensure PFAS levels in water are safe for use by Tucson Water, and to move forward with sampling and remediation of public and private water wells with high PFAS concentrations.

“I applaud EPA for taking this urgent action to make sure the U.S. Air Force and Arizona Air National Guard take responsibility for their actions that polluted our groundwater.  This order makes it clear that full comprehensive abatement must no longer be delayed,” said Rep. Grijalva. “I appreciate the work community and local leaders have taken to protect the health of the community and will continue to work with the City of Tucson, Mayor Romero, and the communities I represent to make certain that every person can rest assured that their drinking water is safe now and for future generations.”

“We welcome and support the decision by U.S. EPA to issue an Emergency Administrative Order for Response Action to the US Air Force in regards to PFAS contamination of groundwater on the southside of Tucson,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “The importance of protecting and remediating the Tucson aquifer from the impacts PFAS is of the utmost importance to me and the Council. The recognition by U.S. EPA to issue this action highlights the seriousness of the issue to those responsible for causing this damage.”

Read more about the Safe Drinking Water Act administrative order HERE.

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