In this file:
· New Mexico sues Air Force over groundwater contamination
New Mexico sues US Air Force over groundwater contamination
· Air Force Pollution Forces New Mexico Dairy To Euthanize 4,000 Cows
New Mexico sues Air Force over groundwater contamination
By Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican
Mar 5, 2019
The state is suing the U.S. Air Force over widespread contamination of soil, drinking water and even milk from firefighting chemicals used on bases in Eastern and Southern New Mexico.
For decades, the Air Force and Department of Defense used firefighting foams containing the hazardous chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to put out fires at the Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases.
Officials have failed to safely dispose of the toxins and stop their spread in the environment, says a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and the state Environment Department.
Chemicals in the groundwater on the bases and in the surrounding areas have been detected at levels several hundred to several thousand times higher than health advisory levels set by the federal government.
New Mexico heavily relies on groundwater for household use and agricultural irrigation.
“The numbers are very high,” Environment Secretary James Kenney said in an interview Tuesday.
The state and Air Force have been unable to reach an agreement on how quickly to deal with the problem, he added, saying he hopes the lawsuit will “move the discussion along and get a better result.”
The suit “is definitively about New Mexico holding the Air Force accountable,” Kenney said.
For at least three decades, dating back to the 1980s, the Department of Defense knew the fluorochemicals could kill aquatic life and otherwise harm the environment. And in 2011, the lawsuit says, the agency admitted the chemicals had created a “crisis,” contaminating groundwater at nearly 600 military sites nationwide.
The chemicals are readily absorbed into the body and have been linked to several types of cancer. They also have been shown to cause problems with the thyroid, immune system and other organs in lab animals over time.
The state says it was only recently notified of contamination around the New Mexico bases. In 2017, the Air Force submitted documents to the state saying it planned to sample soil and water for PFAS contamination, but state officials say they were not given data showing proof of contaminants until August.
Soon after, the lawsuit says, the state informed the Air Force it was in violation of New Mexico’s Hazardous Waste Act.
The state is now demanding the Air Force immediately address the violations and is requesting a permanent injunction ordering the military branch to come into compliance with the Hazardous Waste Act — and requiring it to pay civil penalties and to reimburse the state for its past and future work related to the chemicals.
Attorney General Hector Balderas...
New Mexico sues US Air Force over groundwater contamination
By: Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press
via Air Force Times - Mar 6, 2019
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico on Tuesday sued the U.S. Air Force over groundwater contamination at two bases, saying the federal government has a responsibility to clean up plumes of toxic chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities.
The contamination — linked to a class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — was detected last year in groundwater on and near Cannon and Holloman air bases.
Similar contamination has been found at dozens of military sites across the nation, and growing evidence that exposure can be dangerous has prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider setting a maximum level for the chemicals in drinking water nationwide. Currently only non-enforceable drinking water health advisories are in place.
New Mexico regulators first issued a notice of violation to the Air Force last year for failing to properly address the contamination at the base near Clovis. They followed up earlier this year on Holloman, saying that base had violated its state permit and had yet to respond to concerns about the pollution near Alamogordo.
The state considers the contamination "an immediate and substantial danger" to surrounding communities.
"In the absence of cooperation by the Air Force, the New Mexico Environment Department will move swiftly and decisively to ensure protections for both public health and the environment," Environment Secretary James Kenney said Tuesday.
Aside from violating state environmental laws, Kenney also suggested that the Air Force violated the public's trust.
"Today we begin holding them accountable," he said.
The Air Force declined to comment on the lawsuit but argued that its response to PFAS contamination in New Mexico and elsewhere has been aggressive.
Mark Kinkade with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center said the military has provided alternate water to those in areas where Air Force activity likely contributed to the contamination. He said officials also have been working with the communities and regulators to identify and implement long-term solutions to prevent exposure.
Beyond firefighting foams, PFAS are used in nonstick coatings on things ranging from pans to fast-food wrappers...
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Air Force Pollution Forces New Mexico Dairy To Euthanize 4,000 Cows
By: Anna-Lisa Laca, FarmJournal's Milk
February 19, 2019
Art Schaap, owner of Highland Dairy in Clovis, New Mexico is facing a unique kind of devastation. He’s dumping 15,000 gallons of milk each day, had to let his 40 employees go and plans to kill all 4,000 of his cows because seven of his 13 wells have been contaminated by toxins called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that entered the groundwater at nearby Cannon Air Force base.
When I visited Schaap in the spring of 2016, he was on the horizon of an exciting new adventure. His cheese making business was taking off, his cows were profitable, and he was having the best of luck with employees. It seems his luck has run out.
Last summer, Schaap learned about the substance that would turn his life upside down. Not only were his cows and calves impacted, but Schaap himself has eight to 10 times the normal levels of PFAS in his blood stream. And his wife is likely facing the same fate.
“This has poisoned everything I’ve worked for and everything I care about,” Schaap told Searchlight New Mexico. “I can’t sell the milk. I can’t sell beef. I can’t sell the cows. I can’t sell crops or my property. The Air Force knew they had contamination. What I really wonder is, why didn’t they say something?”
The Department of Defense has disclosed 121 installations where groundwater has been impacted by PFAS.
PFAS are used in fire-retardant foam to smother flames from mock airplanes set on fire by trainees. The chemicals make the foam resistant to grease, water, dirt and heat, which make it useful in extinguishing jet fuel fires.
“It’s potentially been in the groundwater the whole time I’ve owned the dairy,” Schaap said.
Schaap is the first dairy farmer to feel the impact of this pollution, but he likely won’t be the last...