This mess in Albuquerque, New Mexico has been going on for over ten years, and it all was unbeknownst to me when I moved into the neighborhood in 2009.
Albuquerque, New Mexico is a city of about 500,000 population, and I think the southeast heights quandrant is the most populated of the four quandrants. This is where the military bases are located, so this can be a big problem for the residents of the area
Since I started collecting newspaper articles on the subject in June, 2010, I've believed that this is a scandal in the making! Two main points of this issue;
1) The clean-up cost to the taxpayer's is over $200 million dollars. What did the Air Force do to cause so much damage to the environment?
2) This circus by the Air Force and the state Environment Department has been going on for over a decade.
As I said earlier, I've collected about 14 newspaper articles on the matter...and it all seems to get worse with time...and there does't seem to be any end to it all. I've always believed that is wrongdoing involved on the part of the Air Force Base...ie neglegence; cover-up; dragging their feet and putting the residents of the area at risk, etc.
The following article was written by David McCoy, who is the Executive Director of a watch-dog group known as Citizen Action, and the article was published in the Albuquerque Journal on June 11, 2011. The headlines reads as follows;
"Kirtland Clearly in No Hurry To
Clean Up Spill
"The toxic vapor plume from the Kirtland Air Force Base 8 million gallon fuel spill is contaminating drinking water wells at Kirtland and the Veterans Administration Hospital. The contamination is being drawn toward the 10 drinking water wells at the Ridgecrest and Burton subdivisions.
Why then, are the cleanup efforts proceeding at a snail's pace for the equivalent to the Exxon Valdez spill in Albuquerque's aquifer?
In June, 2010, Kirtland submitted plans for installation of two dozen pumps to suck jet fuel out of the ground. Tom Berardinelli, KAFB top civilian, stated KAFB's concern 'is how do we get it out quickly." In August 2010, the New Mexico Environment Department ordered Kirtland to install and operate additional extractors or prepare for those operations at 16 locations.
Inexpicably, in November, instead of enforcing the requirement for more vapor removal, the Environment Department decided to not require the installation of more vapor removal, the Environment Department decided to not require the installation of more vapor extractors. The bizarre reason given by the Environment Department was that 'the Permittee (Kirtland) has not done anything in the past four months to accelerate the reduction of the soil-vapor mass in the vadose zone at the Bulk Fuels Facility.
In April, 2011, Intera, Inc., which represents the Water Authority, informed the Water Protection Advisory Board that 'the interim plan to extract a small portion of the product floating on the groundwater is insufficient.' Intera concluded that a much larger-scale extraction system should be installed to clean up the toxic vapor floating on the acquifer.
Currently, there are only four dual-engine vapor extractors operating at Kirtland. The extractors are the only remediation under way and have absorbed nearly 400,000 gallons of vapors from the acquifer. The engines can run on the vapors and burn contaminants at 99.9 percent efficiency that is well below allowable air emission requirements.
Available now, vapor extractors are a cheaper, more efficient technology to use than the long wait for approval and installation to pump ground water, treat and reinject the water into the acquifer. The National Academies of Science determined that the pump-treat- method is prohibitively expensive, usually with poor results.
The toxic chemicals in jet fuel...benzene; ethylbenzene; toluene and xylene...can be sucked up by extractors from properly installed wells because these chemicals float on the acquifer. A thornier problem is from the ethylene dibromide contamination that was contained in millions of gallons of the earlier aviation gas. A half teaspoon of ethylene dibromide was in every gallon of aviation gas. One half teaspoon of ethylene dibromide is enough to contaminate about 16 million gallons of water. Ethylene dibromide is highly soluble, mobile and is penetrating deep and wide in the aquifer.
Ethylene dibromide is toxic and carcinogenic in any amount and can be in the water supply at levels below detectable limits. Albuquerque's drinking water is already contaminated with alpha radiation; nitrates; arsenic; uranium; radon-226 and 238; selenium and solvents such as TCE; PCE; and xylene. Wven though below EPA drinking water limits, such contaminants can still cause disease and cancer. A production well at the University of New Mexico was shut down for TCE contamination.
The public has repeatedly asked to attend the technical meetings that Kirtland, NMED, the Water Authority and local politicians have been privately holding at Kirtland. Holding the meetings at Kirtland throws up a barrier of obtaining security clearance so as to exclude the public. Agendas, minutes and any possible decisions made at these meetings are not provided.
The public is entitled to know why the agencies and politicians are not moving ahead with the cleanup."
END OF LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR
I'll say it until I'm blue in the face...I think there is a scandal throughout all these years...and a federal judge has to get involved to get to the truth and speed things up, before we have another Love Canal on our hands!
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Copyright; 2011; Jerry Aragon; The Humor Doctor