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EPA to clean up groundwater at Tucson International Airport Area

Release Date: 9/9/2004
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today selected an amended cleanup plan to address groundwater contamination at the Tucson International Airport Superfund Site in Arizona.

The plan will restore underground aquifers to drinking water standards and prevent contaminated groundwater from migrating into uncontaminated areas. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality approved the cleanup decision.

"Clean water is the goal of the Tucson cleanup project," said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "This plan will provide the area with a clean drinking water source while protecting other groundwater resources."

The Tucson International Airport Area Superfund Site has a 50-year history of chemical contamination due to its aircraft and electronics facilities and unlined landfills. Chemicals were improperly disposed of in the past, including trichloroethylene ( TCE), and contaminated the groundwater beneath the former airport property.

TCE, a volatile organic compound, is a non-flammable liquid widely used in the past as an industrial solvent. The EPA considers TCE a probable human carcinogen.

The EPA's plan proposes using extraction wells to remove groundwater contamination at two areas north of Tucson International Airport.

In 1988, the EPA selected a similar remedy to treat contaminated groundwater at other project areas within the airport site. Groundwater treatment systems are currently operating in these project areas.

The EPA is working closely with the Unified Community Advisory Board members and local residents during the design and construction phases.

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