KUNM

Laun-Dry Supply Company

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.

Rashad Mahmood, KUNM

New Mexico environment officials say they’ll present a plan to clean up a toxic underground plume at a public meeting Thursday evening in Albuquerque.

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. 

Ed Williams

A chemical company has been testing the air inside homes for toxins near Downtown Albuquerque years after spilling dry-cleaning chemicals into the groundwater. So far, results show residents are not being exposed to chemicals.

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.