groundwater

Laura Paskus/KUNM

The New Mexico Environment Department released a new rule protecting groundwater from copper mining three years ago. The copper rule was one that state officials, mining companies, and environmentalists had spent more than six months writing. When released by the state, though, key provisions had been changed.

Ed Williams

When toxic chemicals are released into the environment, figuring out whether they’re making people sick can be a major challenge. It’s a problem the state is trying to solve now in the Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods near downtown Albuquerque, where an underground plume of dangerous dry cleaning solvents is flowing just beneath people’s homes and businesses. 

Wikimedia Commons

The New Mexico Environment Department is rewriting the state’s rules on water pollution. 

The state’s water quality rules regulate everything from groundwater pollution from abandoned wells to sewer discharge into rivers. But some of those rules are outdated.

The Environment Department kicked off a review process last week to study them, and see which ones need to be updated.

Laura Paskus

Everyone’s heard how oil and gas production dropped in New Mexico last year. Low prices hit industry – and the state’s budget – hard.

During that same time, the state saw a bump in the number of oil and gas spills. That’s according to a new report from the Center for Western Priorities, which crunches data from the state's Oil Conservation Division

BRRT via Pixabay / public domain

KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project has been reporting on a plume of toxic chemicals in Albuquerque’s groundwater for over six months.

We obtained public documents from the New Mexico Environment Department that show the groundwater plume has been spreading underneath a mile-and-a-half-long swath of Albuquerque’s Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods. Our investigation shows the contamination has the potential to reach people on the surface and could pose a serious health risk to people living and working in the area.

Ed Williams

Editor's Note: A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department emailed with concerns about this story. We reviewed them and found no inaccuracies. We stand by our reporting. You can find a link to her email and read our response here.

Decades ago, a chemical business called Laun-Dry Supply Company leaked poisonous dry cleaning solvents into Albuquerque’s groundwater.

In the years since, nobody has investigated possible health impacts to people living near the contamination.

But that changed this week. On Wednesday, the New Mexico Environment Department started the process of testing houses for chemicals from the Laun-Dry spill.

Public Domain

Over a period of decades, cancer-causing solvents quietly seeped from a warehouse owned by Laun-Dry Supply Co. into the groundwater underneath dozens of homes and businesses near downtown Albuquerque. Today the plume of contamination stretches a mile and a half across the city, putting hundreds of people at risk of chemical exposure.

And government records show that employees of Laun-Dry were exposed to toxins from the plume. 

Ed Williams

The state’s Environment Department gave an update on the toxic plume of dry-cleaning solvents beneath downtown Albuquerque to neighbors and Bernalillo County’s water protection board last week. The meetings were the first time the plume’s risks to public health have been publicly discussed by the state.

Ed Williams

When state environment workers were taking groundwater samples in downtown Albuquerque back in the 1990s, they discovered a large plume of a solvent called trichloroethylene, or TCE—a toxic chemical that causes cancer and birth defects—just 35 feet below the ground. 

Rita Daniels

    

Kirtland Air Force Base will not submit a plan to pump and treat contaminated groundwater at the end of this month as expected.

Officials from Kirtland and the state say they still need more information before moving forward on the cleanup of an underground fuel spill that has contaminated Albuquerque’s aquifer.

New Kirtland Fuel Clean Up Team Warms Some Skeptics

Jul 23, 2014
Rita Daniels

Kirtland Air Force Base held their quarterly Citizen Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday to talk about cleaning up the fuel spill threatening Albuquerque's drinking water supply. People learned they may see more action in the coming months than they have over the past 15 years.

The evening kicked off with a brief power point presentation as one of Kirtland’s project managers went over various clean up efforts.  Then the public was allowed to ask questions.

Deadline Extended For Kirtland Cleanup Plan

Jul 1, 2014
Rita Daniels

 

Kirtland Air Force Base’s deadline to submit a plan to remove toxic chemicals from Albuquerque's groundwater has been extended by 30 days. The base is required to show the state that clean up of a decades old fuel leak is underway by the end of the year.

The Air Force was under a June 30th deadline to submit a plan to the state environment department that describes how they would remove a plume of ethylene dibromide - or EDB – from groundwater that feeds city drinking water wells.

Advocacy Group Hosts Teach-In On Kirtland Fuel Spill

May 23, 2014
Rita Daniels

  About 75 people gathered last night in Albuquerque's southeast heights for a teach-in about the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel leak. 

A panel of elected officials, scientists and environmental activists went over what is and what is not being done to clean up the plume of millions of gallons of contamination creeping towards the city's drinking water supply wells at a rate that has many people alarmed. 

Drilling delayed at Kirtland

Jul 29, 2012
U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Berenger

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the drilling of monitoring wells at Kirtland Air Force Base has been delayed until later this year. The monitoring wells are being drilled in order to determine the extent of contamination from a leak of about 24 million gallons of jet fuel.

One of the two contractors drilling the wells has gone out of business.

According to the story, available online: