January 10, 2020

State fines Air Force $1.7 million for PFAS contamination at Cannon AFB

Cannon AFB courtesy photo: VIRIN: 101010-F-YG475-003.JPG

PFAS chemicals were used in firefighting foam in military bases across the country, including at Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases, until 2016.

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) fined the United States Air Force $1.7 million for multiple violations of state law regarding PFAS chemicals.

NMED announced late Thursday that the department issued an administrative compliance order to the Air Force for unlawfully discharging wastewater without a groundwater permit at Cannon Air Force Base since April 1, 2019.

Read all of our PFAS contamination coverage here

“The Air Force continues to ignore New Mexico’s environmental laws,” said NMED Sec. James Kenney in a statement. “Rather than address PFAS contamination, the Department of Defense shows no interest in helping afflicted communities and impacted natural resources.”

Cannon Air Force Base is one of two military installations in the state where PFAS chemicals have contaminated groundwater. The base’s groundwater discharge permit expired at the end of March 2019 and has not been renewed.

In January 2019, the Air Force sued NMED after the department issued a notice of violation for PFAS contamination of groundwater at Cannon. In March 2019, NMED and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to cleanup PFAS contamination at both Cannon and Holloman Air Force Base. The Air Force did not renew its groundwater discharge permit after entering into litigation with NMED.

NMED is now asking the Air Force to pay $1,699,872.60 in civil penalties and submit a discharge permit application within 30 days. The department said it may assess penalties of up to $25,000 per day for “continued noncompliance.”