TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Greg Stanton (AZ-09) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) urged United States Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. to initiate a Time Critical Removal Action (TCRA) to accelerate the cleanup of per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination related in part to firefighting training and military mission‐related activities conducted by the Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Wing at the Morris Air National Guard base (ANGB) in Tucson, Arizona. A TCRA is any action taken to reduce or prevent an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare, or to the environment, because of a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance.
To date, the Morris ANGB is a subsite of the larger federal Tucson International Airport Area Superfund Site due to groundwater contamination and continues to have one of the highest rates of PFAS contamination as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the current pace, the implementation of solutions to address PFAS from the 162nd Wing site is unlikely to occur for several more years. Meanwhile, PFAS originating from the site, which has had the highest and most wide‐spread PFAS concentrations detected to date from the various subsites within the larger Superfund Site, continue to move toward the Tucson Airport Remediation Project (TARP) wellfields, wellfields initially established to pump and treat contaminated groundwater from the larger Superfund Site for use as drinking water.
In the letter, the members of Congress detail the importance of the Department of Defense (DoD) implementing a TCRA and the unfair taxpayer burden for the military’s contamination:
“With severe drought and pending cuts to water supplies in Arizona, reliable sources of drinking water from groundwater are critical for southern Arizona communities. The time to act is now. Requiring Tucson citizens to foot the bill for treatment of groundwater contamination originating from a federal military site is unacceptable, and as we have seen in the case of other military installations, avoidable. When Luke Air Force Base confirmed the presence of PFAS in groundwater that served as source water for Valley Utilities Water Company in 2019, the D0D acted swiftly to install an effective PFAS treatment system in 2021. And [Davis Monthan Air Force Base], in collaboration with [Arizona Department of Environmental Quality], has contributed funding to a pilot PFAS treatment system for an offsite PFAS groundwater plume that was investigated, designed, and constructed in 18 months. Therefore, there are examples where the U.S. Air Force has accelerated clean up and we believe that can occur here.” The full letter can be found here