November 16, 2018

NM Environment Review: More on Cannon AFB + news around NM

Laura Paskus

All week, we look for stories that help New Mexicans better understand what’s happening with water, climate, energy, landscapes and communities around the region. Thursday morning, that news goes out via email. To subscribe to that weekly email, click here.

Here’s a snippet of what subscribers read this week:

Late last week, we covered groundwater contamination at Cannon Air Force Base, which is part of a nationwide problem at U.S. military bases worldwide.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that activities at 126 military bases had contaminated groundwater with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of human-made chemicals, often referred to as PFAS’s.

The EPA’s human health advisory set the lifetime drinking water exposure limit at 70 parts per trillion, or 70 nanograms per liter. At Cannon Air Force Base, groundwater monitoring wells detected concentrations exceeding 26,000 nanograms per liter. And in off-base wells, including those that supply drinking water to dairies, they detected levels ranging from 25 to 1,600 nanograms per liter.

Wednesday, The Eastern New Mexico News reported that one local dairy “has been obliged to waste an estimated 15,000 gallons of milk daily because of water contamination.”

This story is big, it’s not going away and you’ll want to keep an eye on it.

In related news, on Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its draft toxicity assessment for PFAS chemicals. That’s a summary of potential health impacts from exposure to the chemical. And since it’s a draft, that means you can comment. To read more, visit the EPA’s site.

-The state held hearings on a groundwater discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Los Alamos Monitor has that coverage, which begins: “In opening testimony at a groundwater discharge permit hearing Wednesday, attorneys for a Los Alamos National Laboratory contractor said spraying the ground with water with remediated levels of chromium and RDX is environmentally safe.”

-Meanwhile, the state could fine Los Alamos $10,000 a day for violations, including a failure to properly label radioactive waste being shipped off-site.

-The Associated Press wrote about the EPA’s hearings in Denver, concerning the agency’s plans to pull back on regulations requiring the oil and gas industry to tighten up operations and capture, rather than waste, methane. reported that New Mexico’s senators have announced the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Supply Project will receive $4.347 million through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s 2019 budget.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly email, so you can read all the news. Just click here.