The New Mexico Environment Department has assessed the U.S. Air Force a nearly $1.7 million fine for not complying with rules aimed at protecting groundwater.
The agency claims Cannon Air Force Base has released wastewater despite not having a permit since March 2019.
State officials are concerned because the base near Clovis is among dozens of military installations around the U.S. where contamination from past firefighting activities has been reported. The contamination is linked to chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
“The Air Force continues to ignore New Mexico’s environmental laws,” said James Kenney, head of the Environment Department. “Rather than address PFAS contamination, the Department of Defense shows no interest in helping afflicted communities and impacted natural resources.”
New Mexico sued the U.S. Air Force over groundwater contamination at two bases, saying the federal government has a responsibility to clean up plumes of toxic chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities.
The state in 2018 began regulating for PFAS chemicals. As part of the program, certain entities with groundwater discharge permits began monitoring for and disclosing the presence of the chemicals.