ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona AG Mayes launches investigation into lead-covered cables

Nov 30, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 1:26 pm

cables on the floor...

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced the launch of an investigation into possible lead-covered cables across the state. (File Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

(File Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced the launch of an investigation into possible lead-covered cables used by telecommunication companies.

The cables could contain amounts of lead that exceed the Environment Protection Agency’s safety standards for drinking water and soil, Mayes said in a press release Wednesday.

The concern prompted Mayes’ office to send letters to 200 companies, including Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink, for more information on the lead-covered cables they might own. The companies were asked to reply within 30 days.

The office requested data on the type, length and location of those cables, and whether they are underground, aerial or underwater.

“Ensuring the health and safety of Arizonans is one of my top priorities. This inquiry on lead-covered cables is a critical step in assessing and mitigating any potential environmental or public health-risks to our communities,” Mayes said in the release.

“I expect full cooperation from telecom companies as we work to protect Arizonans from any risks associated with the presence of lead cables in our state.”

The United States Telecom Association, an organization that represents telecommunications-related businesses across the country, said the industry is committed to constructively engaging with stakeholders on the matter.

“The U.S. telecom industry prioritizes the health, safety and environment of its communities and workers. We will continue to follow the science, which has not identified that lead-sheathed telecom cables are a leading cause of lead exposure or the cause of a public health issue, and recent federal and state testing has reinforced this point,” a spokesperson for USTelecom said in a press release Thursday.

Are there known lead-covered cables in Arizona?

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has already detected one lead-covered cable that traverses the Colorado River from Nevada into Mohave County.

A separate letter was since sent to AT&T by the Attorney General’s Office, which requested specific information on the cable placed by Bell Telephone Company in 1949.

The investigation is part of a wider effort to protect Arizona’s residents and the environment.

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Arizona AG Mayes launches investigation into lead-covered cables