ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kirtland Air Force Base’s plans to clean up a massive fuel leak would make the problem worse, spreading contamination to Albuquerque groundwater that is currently clean, the New Mexico Environment Department has concluded.
“The proposed strategy would actively enhance the spread of contamination into the very resource NMED seeks to protect, Albuquerque’s drinking water supply,” Environment Department official Tom Blaine wrote in a June 6 letter.
In April, Kirtland floated a proposal to increase pumping on one of the base’s drinking water wells to try to divert the underground flow of contamination. The idea was to pull fuel-contaminated groundwater away from a danger zone where it threatens municipal drinking water wells beneath a southeast Albuquerque neighborhood.
Once the contamination reaches the well on base, the Air Force would pump it up and run it through a treatment system to clean it to meet drinking water standards before pumping it into the base’s water supply system, according to an April 8 Air Force memo explaining the plan.