University of Arizona

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Dr. Gregory S. Rodriguez oral history project for trichloroethylene (TCE) collection

The Dr. Gregory S. Rodriguez oral history project for trichloroethylene (TCE) collection includes student interviews with community members and other notable figures who discussed or were affected by the trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in Tucson water. The contamination occurred in the 1980s on the southside of Tucson and residents were drinking contaminated drinking water, which was laced with TCE, a solvent best known for cleaning airplanes. Alleged contamination came from water runoff that entered arroyos adjacent to the Tucson Airport Authority. Additionally, TCE had been dumped throughout the 1950s and nine wells were contaminated and needed permanent closure. When individuals in the community began getting sick from the contamination, including several cancer cases, they began asking questions. These questions, research studies, and scientific reports would lead to a lengthy legal lawsuit. Nearly 40 years later, the Arizona government is fast-tracking efforts to clean up the groundwater contamination.