Bill to aid cleanup efforts of abandoned dry cleaners advances

Across New Mexico there are about 300 neglected or abandoned industrial sites including dry cleaners, former automobile paint shops and closed metal plating shops that could be threatening groundwater and soil resources. SB 84 seeks to start addressing this problem by allocating $5 million to assess, remediate or reclaim these hundreds of locations. The Senate […]

Bill to aid cleanup efforts of abandoned dry cleaners advances

Across New Mexico there are about 300 neglected or abandoned industrial sites including dry cleaners, former automobile paint shops and closed metal plating shops that could be threatening groundwater and soil resources.

SB 84 seeks to start addressing this problem by allocating $5 million to assess, remediate or reclaim these hundreds of locations.

The Senate Conservation Committee passed the bill with unanimous support. 

“Now that we have an abundance of one-time money, it’s really a good opportunity for us to start to clean up our mess,” bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said.

He described the bill as an attempt to start to get the work going. He said cleaning up the sites would help communities throughout the state and once the sites are cleaned up they could be used for economic purposes.

The legislation would allow the New Mexico Environment Department along with contractors to evaluate these neglected sites and determine the scope of the contamination and if it reaches a level that would allow the state to refer them to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Superfund status.

John Rhoderick with NMED said many times the sites do not meet the Superfund criteria.

“But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have citizens at risk,” he said.

He said these sites can be located next to daycares or apartment complexes.

The overall cost to cleanup the hundreds of sites in the state will exceed $5 million, but Rhoderick said the first step is to identify which sites pose the most risk and develop a plan to move forward with remediation and abatement.

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