From New Mexico in Focus (Laura Paskus):
New tests by Clovis’ water utility show toxic chemicals associated with groundwater contamination from Cannon Air Force Base have been found in the city’s water supply.
According to a letter sent to customers of the utility EPCOR late this week, trace amounts of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances were found in about 10 percent of the company’s 82 intake wells. In the letter, Clovis operations supervisor Mark Huerta wrote that EPCOR detected the chemicals at levels between four and seven parts per trillion.
Saturday, EPCOR posted an undated copy of the letter on its website, which continued to feature posts from 2018 with headlines such as “Cannon Air Force Base Plume and Why it Doesn’t Affect your Water.”
In his letter, EPCOR’s Huerta wrote, “None of the sample results came close to EPA’s health-based recommended advisory level. And none of the water EPCOR supplies to you comes from the area surrounding the Cannon plume…”
The presence of the toxic chemicals in the municipal water supply for Clovis, however, raises questions about how the plume might be moving underground, or if other above-ground uses could be spreading contaminated water.
In the letter to customers, Huerta wrote that “there is no health concern,” and added that the wells that sampled positive for PFAS have been taken out of service…
The Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department have filed suits and countersuits over the PFAS contamination and its cleanup.
In early 2019, the Air Force sued the state, challenging New Mexico’s attempt to force the military to address the PFAS contamination under the hazardous waste permit issued by NMED. In March 2019, New Mexico filed its own complaint against the Air Force, asking a federal District Court judge to order the military to act on and fund cleanup at Cannon and Holloman.
On Feb. 14, New Mexico In Focus will feature an interview with New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney about PFAS contamination, including the latest revelations by EPCOR. In August 2019, environmental correspondent Laura Paskus interviewed Kenney about the state’s battle with the Air Force over PFAS.
If you’ve been affected by PFAS contamination in your community, call our tip line at (505) 433-7242.