Senator Martha McSally pressed the Secretary of the Air Force nominee, Barbara Barrett, on what the Air Force is doing about groundwater contamination in Tucson.

A new series of tests found record levels of a toxic and possibly cancer-causing chemical compound in groundwater in private wells just north of the Arizona National Guard Facilities at Tucson International Airport. The substances are often more commonly referred to as PFAS are not in the city’s drinking water supply.

During a U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing to consider the nomination of Ambassador Barrett on Thursday, McSally asked about the Air Force’s role in addressing 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?

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Barrett responded that it is vital to have a close relationship with local communities and to address known issues.

“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,” Barrett said.