State wants KAFB to do more to clean up jet fuel - Albuquerque Journal

State wants KAFB to do more to clean up jet fuel

The U.S. Air Force has excavated thousands of tons of soil and treated millions of gallons of water contaminated by jet fuel at a base bordering New Mexico’s largest city, but state regulators say the military still has more cleanup to do.

The New Mexico Environment Department, which monitors the cleanup’s progress, late last week released a draft of this year’s strategic plan for addressing the contamination at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The fuel leak – believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades – was detected in 1999. The greatest concern was potential contamination of drinking water wells in Albuquerque neighborhoods that border the base.

While state and military officials say drinking wells are now protected, community watchdogs argue that there are gaps in the data and are pushing for an independent review of the yearslong, multimillion-dollar cleanup project.

“Much information has been administratively kept secret from the public to paint over serious technical problems about the jet fuel spill investigation and remediation efforts,” said Dave McCoy, whose group Citizen Action New Mexico has sued over the years to try to get documents released on the spill and cleanup.

McCoy and others said they have asked the state to establish a citizen advisory board and include details on the project’s budget and spending for the next year.

The state’s draft does not address any spending, but officials have scheduled three public meetings this year and are planning to put out a more comprehensive proposal on public involvement this summer.

Environment Secretary James Kenney, who took over the state agency this year, said the U.S. Air Force has made strides in cleaning up the fuel spill but that the work is far from complete. He said the contamination remains a top priority for his office and that he’s committed to holding the Air Force accountable.

To keep the contamination from spreading beyond the boundaries of the base and toward drinking water wells, the Air Force installed a pump-and-treat system in 2015.

So far, more than 585 million gallons have been extracted, treated to less-than-detectable concentrations of contamination and either used to water the Kirtland golf course or injected back into the aquifer.

More than 4,200 tons of contaminated soil also was removed and vapor was pulled from the soil for over a decade.

The leaking fuel contained the additive ethylene dibromide, or EDB. While the effects on people haven’t been well-documented, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says animal studies indicate that chronic exposure may result in toxic effects to the liver, kidney and reproductive organs.

Kenney said data gathered last year indicates the groundwater extraction and treatment is having a positive effect on the contamination. Under the draft plan, that work would continue along with more modeling and monitoring. The state also is requiring the Air Force to submit more data related to the soil vapor.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
States mostly defer to union guidance for on-set gun ...
ABQnews Seeker
Safety standards developed by film studios ... Safety standards developed by film studios and labor unions are the primary protection for actors and film crews when a scene calls for using ...
2
Vigil to be held at Civic Plaza for cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico community will come ... The New Mexico community will come together to remember filmmaker Halyna Hutchins. The 42-year-old director of photography was killed on the set of 'Rust' ...
3
Halyna Hutchins remembered as a gifted cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless ... Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless dreamer' and 'adrenaline junkie'
4
APS bus drivers get a pay boost amid ongoing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Board of Education OKs hiring, referral ... Board of Education OKs hiring, referral bonuses as rate reaches $18 per hour
5
City: Official not drunk in accident
ABQnews Seeker
Allegation was made by Gonzales against ... Allegation was made by Gonzales against COO in mayoral debate with Keller
6
Las Cruces educator named NM Teacher of the Year
ABQnews Seeker
Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico ... Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico in the national competition
7
Albuquerque's outdoors access lands it on a good list
ABQnews Seeker
Outside Magazine named Albuquerque one of ... Outside Magazine named Albuquerque one of its 20 top cities and towns to live in on its annual list.
8
Search warrant, 911 calls detail deadly incident on movie ...
ABQnews Seeker
Actor, producer Alec Baldwin shocked and ... Actor, producer Alec Baldwin shocked and saddened at tragic incident that left colleague dead
9
Governor to tout public works deal in DC visit
ABQnews Seeker
Lujan Grisham to visit the White ... Lujan Grisham to visit the White House, meet with congressional leaders