Tucson halts operations at water plant threatened by toxic chemical

By Alyssa Marksz | Cronkite News (Photo via City of Tucson)

WASHINGTON – Tucson officials said they will indefinitely suspend operations at one of the city’s water treatment plants to keep it from being overwhelmed by an underground toxic chemical plume.

City officials assured residents in a news conference Tuesday that water from the Tucson Airport Remediation Project treatment plant is safe, and that the decision to stop operations there on June 21 is merely a precaution against high levels of the chemical PFAS that could be moving toward the plant.

“Our action to suspend treatment at TARP is a proactive step to ensuring our community’s drinking water supply remains safe,” said Tucson Assistant City Manager Tim Thomure.

PFAS, which is used in firefighting foam and other applications, was detected in the groundwater near several military bases and airports in the state, including the Arizona Air National Guard facility at the Tucson International Airport.

The chemical was first detected in TARP groundwater years ago, but levels were low enough then that they could be removed with available treatment, city officials said.

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