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Comment on White Sands damage invited

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Written public comment on a Draft Damage Assessment Plan for White Sands Test Facility in southern New Mexico is being accepted through Jan. 12, according to the New Mexico Natural Resources Trustee’s office.

Drafts of the plan are available online at onrt.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/WSTF-Draft-Assessment-Plan.pdf, or may be requested from the trustee office at 121 Tijeras NE, Suite 1000, or by calling 222-9546.

“A natural resource damage assessment evaluates the impacts of releases of hazardous substances on natural resources and the services provided by those resources,” said trustee Butch Tongate, who also is the state’s environment department secretary. “The process focuses on the restoration of resources and their services to the condition they would have been in absent the release of the hazardous substances.”

According to the plan’s executive summary, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s White Sands Test Facility was established in 1962 to support NASA’s Apollo Space Program. Today, it’s used by federal agencies to test rocket engines, and is a resource for testing and evaluating potentially hazardous materials, space flight components and rocket propulsion systems. It is managed by the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The test facility is located on the southwestern edge of White Sands Missile Range, about 11 miles east of Las Cruces.

“Site operations have resulted in the release of hazardous substances, particularly from tanks and impoundments used to store waste materials. Hazardous substances have come to be located in groundwater and soils and may have adversely impacted other natural resources,” the summary states.

Comments must be submitted in writing to: Trais Kliphuis, Executive Director, New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee, 121 Tijeras NE, Suite 1000, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Comments must be received by 4 p.m. Jan. 12. Comments also may be submitted via email to: trais.kliphuis@state.nm.us.”>href=”http://trais.kli”>trais.kliphuis@state.nm.us.

The New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee held a public meeting on the draft document last week at New Mexico State University. More information is available at the trustee’s office website, onrt.state.nm.us.

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