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Public Health New Mexico

Kirtland To Host Open House On Jet Fuel Cleanup

KAFB_pumpntreat_2019HCKUNM.JPG
Hannah Colton / KUNM
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Inside the pump-and-treat facility on Kirtland Air Force Base, a counter shows how many gallons of contaminated groundwater have been procesed.

Kirtland Air Force Base will host an open house Thursday evening about their efforts to clean up groundwater contamination from a decades-old jet fuel spill. 

Community members are invited on base to tour the water treatment plant that’s been pulling a plume of contamination away from Albuquerque’s drinking water wells since 2015.

There are other measures underway, too, like microorganisms that eat toxins in the soil. Kate Lynnes, the Air Force’s senior advisor for the project, says state and military officials will be on hand to explain and answer questions.

“This is an opportunity for people to meet our experts and have them meet that person where they’re at," said Lynnes. "So if it’s the chemical engineering professor, we can nerd out on it. If it’s someone who’s a member of the public who may not have a science background, we can answer their questions in a way that makes more sense to them.”

The Air Force discovered the massive leak of jet fuel about 20 years ago.

Their response hasn’t been fast or transparent enough for many stakeholders. In May, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates announced their plan to sue the Air Force and the Department of Defense to get them to intensify cleanup efforts.

The open house will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Members of the public will be able to enter KAFB through the Ridgecrest gate; directions and parking information are here.

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Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and from KUNM listeners like you.

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