ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it’s done funding the clean up of a superfund site of toxic chemicals in Española.
The spill was discovered 30 years ago. Residents are outraged that the government said it has no more legal responsibility to clean it up.
They’re angry because the EPA is no longer going to help them find a solution for a huge chemical leak that happened decades ago.
“The problem started in the 1980s when a dry cleaner spilled toxic chemicals. They had a leak, they spilled toxic chemicals that seeped into our groundwater,” Lauren Richelt said.
Since then, the EPA has attempted bio-remediation, a process that allows bacteria to break down those chemicals making them less threatening.
“The problem is we don’t know what is an effective treatment for the plume, and the EPA is saying what they’re doing is working, but it’s just working extremely slowly,” Richelt said.
While it has helped a little bit on the smaller problem areas, the largest plume–the size of more than 70 football fields–is not seeing a change.
“Somebody told me that we were going to wait 40 years to see if this works. I’ll be dead in 40 years. I would like to see something faster,” Richelt said.
Now, the community is outraged because the EPA said it is no longer legally obligated to help. Some are even calling it environmental racism.
“We are not throwaway people. Our health matters,” an Española resident said.
There is a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the EPA’s decision at 5 p.m. at the Beatrice V.Q. Martinez Stroke Center.