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New Mexico Environment Department

Simon Law via Wikimedia CC

Dangerous dry-cleaning chemicals leached into the soil and the aquifer under Española decades ago. The Environmental Protection Agency pulled out recently after working on cleanup for 10 years, but some of the contamination remains. Now, the state’s taking over, and ignoring investigators’ recommendation to use a different cleanup method.

SUNfoto by Austin Fisher

The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it’s done funding the cleanup of a superfund site of toxic chemicals in Española, saying that after 10 years, it’s no longer legally obligated to keep trying. The plume is as big as 75 American football fields, spreads under downtown Española, and reaches the neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo and the Rio Grande.

Let's Talk Clean Water Act In New Mexico

Jul 11, 2019
All2humanuk via Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Let's Talk New Mexico 7/11 8a:  The Trump Administration has proposed a revision to the Clean Water Act that would exclude many of New Mexico’s ephemeral waterways from protection. Environmental advocates say that this would have a harmful impact on the state’s watersheds, but critics say the move would undo government overreach under the Obama Administration.

How would this impact your area of the state? Do you work in mining or agriculture? How your operations be affected? Are you concerned about water pollution? Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org, tweet using the hashtag #LetsTalkNM or call in live.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

To hear Kirtland Air Force Base officials tell it, the cleanup of a decades-old jet fuel spill in Southeast Albuquerque is going great. Their pump-and-treat system is shrinking a major swath of the pollution in the city’s aquifer. But there’s a long history of distrust between the military and the community on this project, and there’s still a lot more to clean up.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

The U.S. Air Force will host a public meeting Thursday night about the cleanup of a decades-old jet fuel spill north of Kirtland Air Force Base. Military officials say the cleanup is proceeding as planned, despite a reported reduction in the project budget this year. 

Wikimedia Commons

Kirtland Air Force Base and the New Mexico Environment Department will meet with the public for an upadate on efforts to clean up the decades old fuel spill on Thursday in Albuquerque. 

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.

NMED Secretary: We Are Confident WIPP Is Ready To Go

Jan 6, 2017
National Nuclear Security Administration via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

The nation’s only underground nuclear waste dump is back in operation again. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad stored low level nuclear waste deep in the earth Wednesday for the first time since the facility was closed following a fire and a radiation leak in early 2014.

The New Mexico Environment Department enforces hazardous waste regulations at WIPP. Secretary Butch Tongate says they’ve reviewed procedures, equipment, safety protocols and permit compliance at the facility.

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. 

NMED Announces Plume Testing Results, Cleanup Strategy

Jun 16, 2016
Victoria Edwards

Laun-Dry Supply Company is moving toward cleaning up a decades-old solvent spill near downtown Albuquerque. The state's Environment Department addressed a packed Wells Park Neighborhood Association meeting yesterday.

Neighborhood Could Get Plume Test Results, Cleanup Plan

Jun 13, 2016
Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

The state Environment Department is expected to talk about chemical testing and cleanup efforts for a decades-old chemical spill in the heart of Albuquerque on Tuesday. The Laun-Dry Supply Company spill is on a neighborhood meeting agenda.

The chemical distribution business leaked toxic solvents near downtown Albuquerque over the course of several decades. NMED is expected to present results from testing in homes where people might be breathing in toxic gases from the spill.

Environment Department Demands Corrections To Our Toxic Plume Coverage. Here's Our Response.

Mar 14, 2016
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.

Testing Begins In Homes Near Toxic Plume

Feb 3, 2016
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.

Chemical Company To Test ABQ Homes For Toxins

Nov 5, 2015

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. 

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