Special Edition, Trainee-Written Highlight

Highlights of Unified Community Advisory Board Meeting – Tucson International Airport Area
By: Camila Leite Madeira

Defense-related and industrial activities conducted in South Tucson between 1950 and 1970 resulted in the release of hazardous chemicals, such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,4-dioxane, to the subsurface, ultimately resulting in contamination of the soil and the groundwater. The contaminated area associated with these releases was declared a federal Superfund site in 1983. Since then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have been developing strategies to clean up the site. As result of the Superfund activities, a local Unified Community Advisory Board (UCAB) was created, and consists of local community members, health workers, US EPA representatives, and university students. The members of this UCAB meet every three months to discuss the progress of the site’s clean up. The meeting discussed here took place at the El Pueblo Activity Center, in South Tucson, on April 21, 2016. During the meeting, the public was informed about the remediation technologies used to clean up different sites within the Tucson International Airport Area (TIAA). Representatives from the US EPA, ADEQ, and Tucson Water also presented their most recent results obtained from sampling and performing chemical analysis of the groundwater. In general, the results discussed at this meeting show that treatments appear to be effective in the removal of TCE and 1,4-dioxane.

University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) trainee, Camila Leite Madeira, attended the April 21st meeting. During the EPA presentation on the effectiveness of remediation processes in the TIAA, Camila observed the community members show special interest in the cleanup goals established by US EPA for 1,4-dioxane, and express concern in remaining updated on the risks involved in exposure to the target contaminants. Camila said, “Attending this meeting helped me to understand the importance of promoting communication and information exchange with the local community. Since several members of the community have been living in south Tucson during their entire lives, it is essential for them to understand the risks of exposure to TCE and 1,4-dioxane. In addition, these people can present valuable information about the community, helping in the decision-making processes.”