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Testing Begins In Homes Near Toxic Plume

Ed Williams
Air sampling canisters at a home near the Laun-Dry plume

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.

There are at least a dozen homes and many more businesses in the path of the dry cleaning chemical plume, and anyone inside those buildings could be breathing toxic gases rising from the groundwater.

Robert Miranda, whose house lies closest to the groundwater plume, is the first to have his home tested for toxins. He says whatever the results, at least now he’ll have some kind of answer.

“I’m hoping for something…any kind of results, it’s nice to know," he said. "If I have to move out, I’ll just have to move out.”

The company that spilled the chemicals is now working on a full cleanup plan.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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