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Tucson City Council votes to sue 3M over contaminated wells near Davis-Monthan

Two wells shut down in June after PFOA, PFOS found
Posted: 4:36 PM, Sep 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-08 19:57:55Z

The Tucson City Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to sue 3M and other manufacturers over the contaminated wells near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

The City of Tucson wants to take the Minnesota-based manufacturing company to court over the toxic chemicals that were found in wells near Davis-Monthan. 

The two contaminated wells were shut down in June after possible cancerous chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA were found. The man-made chemicals are used to manufacture products ranging from stain-resistant carpets, to pizza boxes, to firefighting foams. 

The Air Force began using the chemicals in the 70's as a firefighting agent to extinguish petroleum fires. The Air Force reports it started replacing the fire foam at military bases across the nation in 2016 because of water contamination.

The contaminated wells are located at 2051 S. Irving Avenue and 4301 E. 32nd Street. 

According to the EPA, human exposure to PFOS and PFOA  can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental effects

Council Member Steve Kozachik says they plan on suing 3M for millions.

"This is not going to be a cheap fix," Kozachik said. "But frankly, I don't care. That's 3M's problem. They just settled an $850 million settlement with the state of Minnesota over this same stuff."

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The public is currently not at risk since the wells were shut off when the chemicals were found, Fernando Molina, spokesperson for Tucson Water said Friday. 

But Kozachik says the city wants to sue before there is a risk. 

"It's now in our water, I want them to come and clean it up," Kozachik said. "I want them to own the solution, the cost of the solution, any treatment facilities we have to build to get this stuff out of our system and the maintenance of those treatment systems going forward. We shouldn't have to go build a treatment plant and then pay millions of dollars over time to maintain it."

Kozachik says shutting down wells isn't a long term solution, so now the City Council is building the case to file before the statute of limitations is up later this year. 

"3M can either step up to the table and write a check, or we'll litigate," Kozachik said. "Either way, they're going to clean up our water system."

A lawsuit has not yet been filed. 

Tucson Water is still working to find out more about the contamination in the wells. 

3M provided KGUN with the following statement:

3M cares deeply about the safety and health of Arizona’s communities. 3M acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS and will vigorously defend its environmental stewardship.