From The New Mexico Political Report (Laura Paskus):
On Tuesday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to act on, and fund, cleanup at the two bases near Clovis and Alamogordo.
“We have significant amounts of PFAS in the groundwater, under both Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases,” NMED Secretary James Kenney told NM Political Report.
PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are toxic, human-manufactured chemicals that move through groundwater and biological systems. Even in small amounts, exposure to PFAS increases the risk of testicular, kidney and thyroid cancer and problems like ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
“We want the groundwater cleaned up in the shortest amount of time possible, and we think at this point litigation is our best and fastest approach,” Kenney said. NMED and the New Mexico Department of Health are continuing to collect groundwater samples, and the two agencies are also working closely with the state’s Department of Agriculture. “As soon as we have those results, which should be in the next couple of weeks, we will determine the best way [to engage with the community],” he said. That could mean public meetings or roundtable discussions in the communities.
“I personally understand: It’s a bit scary, if you’re in those areas, to know there’s a groundwater issue and [to wonder], ‘How am I affected?” Kenney said. “We need to get some scientific data to get the answers to those questions.”
Groundwater tests at Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis showed concentrations of PFAS exceeding 26,000 nanograms per liter, or more than 300 times the federal lifetime drinking water exposure limit. In off-base wells, including those that supply drinking water to dairies, levels ranged from 25 to 1,600 nanograms per liter. The human health advisory for a lifetime drinking water exposure to PFAS is 70 parts per trillion, or 70 nanograms per liter. At Holloman, contamination levels in some wells were 18,000 times the federal health advisory for PFAS.