U.S. SENATE — Today, U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) pressed Ambassador Barbara M. Barrett, nominee to be the Secretary of the Air Force, on the Air Force’s role in addressing groundwater contamination in Arizona.
Recent tests identified high-levels of a toxic chemical compound known as PFAS in private wells north of Arizona National Guard Facilities at Tucson International Airport. The contaminated water is not part of the city’s drinking water supply.
During a U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing to consider the nomination of Ambassador Barrett, McSally asked for Barrett’s commitment to continue partnering with local communities to address PFAS contamination.
“As you know, the Air Force has been a proactive partner in testing and identifying all Air Force and Air National Guard bases for higher-than-normal levels of PFAS contamination,” McSally said. “Several of these higher-level sites are located in Arizona – most notably just north of Tucson International Airport, where the 162nd Air National Guard unit conducts F-16 training. Can I get your commitment that you will continue to partner with these local communities, like Tucson, to address this PFAS issue?”
Ambassador Barrett responded: “Absolutely, Senator. It is important. The relationship between our military facilities and the communities is vitally important and this contamination is a problem that is not unique to Arizona but is something that would be, if confirmed, carefully attended.”
Download McSally’s questioning HERE.
McSally successfully secured several PFAS provisions included in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate, including provisions to:
- Prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains perand polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) after October 1, 2022.
- Provide $10m for CDC to study health implications of PFAS.
- Give authority to HHS to assess health implications of PFAS substances in drinking water.
- Require report on PFOA and PFOS (subsets of PFAS) contamination on military installations (specifically, list installations and facilities potentially germane to exposure over current EPA recommended lifetime limit of 70 parts per trillion (PPT)).
On September 11, McSally met one-on-one with Ambassador Barrett to discuss her nomination.
On June 27, the Senate’s Annual Defense Bill passed with provisions McSally fought for including provisions to outlaw the use of PFAS substances, once the Department of Defense has developed an alternative, and to allow National Guard sites access to environmental restoration funds.
On May 21, McSally hailed President Donald J. Trump’s intent to nominate Ambassador Barbara Barrett to be the next Secretary of the Air Force.