Haaland on PFAS contamination in NM

Laura Paskus

January 12, 2021

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to head the U.S. Department of the Interior. Until that nomination is confirmed, Haaland is the sitting congresswoman for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District. In both her current role and potential future role, she says protecting the environment will be a top priority. Rep. Haaland took a few minutes recently to talk with correspondent Laura Paskus about the evolving story of groundwater contamination and PFAS near at least seven military installations across the state. 

In WisconsinJohnson Controls has settled litigation with residents whose water the company polluted with PFAS. The agreement, which is part of a 2018 class action lawsuit against a Johnson subsidiary, Tyco Fire Products, means the company is paying out $17.5 million—but has not admitted wrongdoing. As reported by Chris Hubbuch with Wisconsin State Journal:   

Under the proposed settlement, anyone who lived or owned property in the covered part of the town of Peshtigo for at least a year since 1965 will be eligible for compensation. According to the settlement, there are more than 300 homes in the roughly 3-square-mile area south of Marinette. 

According to another story by Danielle Kaeding at Wisconsin Public Radiothe lead attorney for residents, Paul Napoli, said this is the “first AFFF or firefighting foam settlement in the country that is going to deal with property damage, personal injury and medical monitoring expenses.” 

Bloomberg Law reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a request from environmental and public health groups in North Carolina to force Chemours Co. to test for the presence of 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances around the company’s Fayetteville plant, where some 300,000 people have been exposed to the toxic chemicals. According to the story by Pat Rizzuto:  

The six groups that asked the agency to require the data—the Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, NC Black Alliance, and Toxic Free NC—said in a statement that the rejection was yet another case of the Trump administration prioritizing “the profit margins of corporate polluters” instead of public health. 

Residents of Cape Cod who want to better understand the risks of exposure to PFAS can tune into a virtual event with experts from the University of Rhode Island. There’s more information about that at CapeCod.com.  

And back in Wisconsin, the city of La Crosse has voted to spend $25,000 on bottled water for Campbell residents whose drinking water has been contaminated with PFAS. The city has also offered free well testing for those living downstream from the La Crosse Regional Airport 

If you’ve been affected by PFAS contamination in your community here in New Mexico, call our tip line at (505) 433-7242. To read more coverage of PFAS in New Mexico visit “Groundwater War: New Mexico’s Toxic Threat,” which includes a timeline of events and studies on PFAS.