Environment Department Secretary on Toxic Chemicals Around New Mexico Military Bases
August 23, 2019
Correspondent Laura Paskus sits down with New Mexico Environment Department Sec. James Kenney to talk about PFAS, or toxic, human-made chemicals that have been found at U.S. military bases across the nation and the world.
Here in New Mexico, these chemicals have contaminated groundwater around Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases. Sec. Kenney discusses the danger of such contamination, what’s being done about it, and the federal response.
Sec. James Kenney, New Mexico Environment Department
NOTE: After our program was recorded, the Air Force responded to NMiF’s request concerning the military’s actions on PFAS contamination at Holloman and Cannon Air Force Bases. Specifically, NMiF asked what actions the Air Force is taking to address cleanup. Here is the response from Mark Kinkade, U.S. Air Force:
“Generally speaking, the Air Force team lives and thrives in the communities we serve, and we share concerns about the possible impact of our firefighting mission. We are taking aggressive action to assess the potential for PFOS/PFOA contamination of human drinking water and respond appropriately. If concentrations of PFOS/PFOA in human drinking water sources off base are found to be above EPA’s lifetime drinking water health advisory as a result of our mission, we immediately provide alternate drinking water and begin working with the impacted residents and state regulators toward identifying and implementing long-term solutions. The Air Force’s actions are authorized and limited by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also know as CERCLA or the Superfund law), the Superfund Reauthorization and Amendments Act, and the National Contingency Plan. The Air Force’s response to PFOS/PFOA contamination in New Mexico and in other states follows a three-pronged approach of to identify PFOS/PFOA releases, response actions where authorized, and prevention of future contamination. As we gather data to develop informed solutions, we actively work with community partners, advisory boards, regulators, and other local, state, and federal stakeholders to get their input, work through specific issues, and collaboratively implement our PFOS/PFOA program.”