KUNM

Groundwater Contamination

Ed Williams

Over two decades ago, toxic dry cleaning chemicals seeped into the groundwater from a chemical distribution company’s warehouse near downtown Albuquerque. Today the plume spreads from Laun-Dry Supply Company about a mile and a half eastward towards I-25.

After a long investigation, the New Mexico Environment Department is poised to move forward with a full-scale cleanup of the chemical plume.

Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Copper Rule

Sep 27, 2016
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. 

Rashad Mahmood / Public Health New Mexico

KUNM’s reporting series Poisoned Earth: Albuquerque’s Toxic Secret revealed that state officials had not studied health effects of a dry cleaning chemical spill on people who lived near the plume. 

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 But some of those rules are outdated.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.

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. 

A company that leaked toxic dry cleaning chemicals into the groundwater near downtown Albuquerque is planning to test the air in nearby homes to see if the chemicals pose a health risk to people living on top of the contamination. 

Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

    

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. 

There is a problem with the groundwater in Albuquerque—a big problem. A plume of poisonous dry cleaning chemicals is flowing beneath the Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods, just north of downtown. The contamination stretches farther than the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill, and is much closer to the surface.

Big, Toxic and Still Not Cleaned Up

Oct 7, 2015
Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

A plume of toxic dry cleaning chemicals has been moving through Albuquerque's groundwater for at least two decades. At 35 feet deep and at least a mile and a half long, it's closer to the surface and covers more distance than the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill. And the chemicals in the groundwater, called TCE and PCE, cause cancer, birth defects and neurological problems. 

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. 

Supreme Court Weighs In On Dairy Rulemaking

Dec 15, 2014
Rita Daniels

 On Monday the New Mexico Supreme Court made two rulings that affect how proposed amendments to regulate wastewater from the dairy industry will proceed.