#NewMexico fines Air Force $1.7 million for #PFAS contamination at Cannon AFB — #NM Political Report

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

From The New Mexico Political Report (Kendra Chamberlain):

NMED announced late Thursday that the department issued an administrative compliance order to the Air Force for unlawfully discharging wastewater without a groundwater permit at Cannon Air Force Base since April 1, 2019…

“The Air Force continues to ignore New Mexico’s environmental laws,” said NMED Sec. James Kenney in a statement. “Rather than address PFAS contamination, the Department of Defense shows no interest in helping afflicted communities and impacted natural resources.”

Cannon Air Force Base is one of two military installations in the state where PFAS chemicals have contaminated groundwater. The base’s groundwater discharge permit expired at the end of March 2019 and has not been renewed.

In January 2019, the Air Force sued NMED after the department issued a notice of violation for PFAS contamination of groundwater at Cannon. In March 2019, NMED and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to cleanup PFAS contamination at both Cannon and Holloman Air Force Base. The Air Force did not renew its groundwater discharge permit after entering into litigation with NMED.

NMED is now asking the Air Force to pay $1,699,872.60 in civil penalties and submit a discharge permit application within 30 days. The department said it may assess penalties of up to $25,000 per day for “continued noncompliance.”

From Bloomberg Environment (Pat Rizzuto):

Fred Stone hasn’t been able sell his milk since November 2016 because his longtime buyer said it was too contaminated with so-called forever chemicals.

But to the federal government, it isn’t contaminated enough to qualify him for a disaster aid program that’s supposed to pay farmers whose milk is polluted through no fault of their own.

And now, Stone says, he can’t afford to keep testing his milk, at $600 a pop, to show it’s either sufficiently contaminated for federal aid, or cleaned up enough to get back the Maine state dairy license he lost last year…

Art Schaap, owner of Highland Dairy in Clovis, N.M., also can’t sell any milk because his cow’s water is contaminated with PFAS from uses at the nearby Cannon Air Force Base. He’s gotten aid from the indemnity program and is grateful for it.

But he’s angry that both he and Stone have had their livelihoods taken from them. Industries and the military that released these chemicals into the environment need to be held accountable, Schaap said.

Federal agencies are “not doing their jobs. They’re kicking the can down the road like this problem is going to go away,” he said. “This stuff just doesn’t go away.”

“The milk industry does not want this in their milk, period,” Schaap said.

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