New Mexico couple unknowingly worked above ‘Superfund Site’ for a decade

New Mexico

A New Mexico woman wants to know why she wasn’t warned that the business she was working in for years was sitting on something dangerous.

It’s so dangerous, the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered it to be cleaned up. Now, the woman wonders if the exposure to the site caused her husband’s death back in 2017.

Just looking at Lynda Anaya’s former office on West Second and Lea streets in Roswell, you’d have no idea the hazards that lie beneath.

“We were totally in the dark for over 10 years,” said Anaya. “My husband and I and our children were in this building hours and hours and hours over the years.”

It’s in one of four areas in Roswell deemed a “Superfund Site” because of the contamination that lies in the soil and groundwater beneath it, leading to vapor intrusion in the building.

It’s a result of chemicals from dry cleaning businesses seeping into the ground for years. The EPA declared it a Superfund Site in 2015, recognizing its threat to humans and the environment.

It’s something Anaya says her landlords failed to tell her.

“We were betrayed, we felt betrayed by these landlords that were friends of ours,” said Anaya. “It’s just unfathomable to us that we weren’t told. How they could have such a disregard to our health and including the other renters that rented with us?”

She says the landlords had knowledge of the toxins as far back as 2007 when her husband opened their tax business, but they didn’t even know about them until the EPA showed up to their office a decade later.

That’s when they learned that the dangerous chemicals at the office were measuring 200 times what is considered safe.

“We would taste metallic. We would get headaches, severe headaches,” said Anaya. “They may not have known the levels of the toxins then, but they were aware that it was toxic.”

Now, she wonders if her husband’s illness had something to do with it. She says over the years he got sicker and sicker.

“Severe vomiting, kidney problems, fluid in his lungs and headaches, bloody noses,” said Anaya.

Anaya says doctors never could pinpoint a cause. 

Once they learned of the danger beneath the business they moved out, but that same month her husband collapsed and died weeks later.

Anaya says she’s now worried for others. She says the landlords continued to rent out the space, even to a martial arts school where children attended.

“Was it greed? Was it plainly that they didn’t care? Did they just not see the gravity of the seriousness of the situation to where they just kept renting without a second thought?” she asked.

Anaya is hoping by sharing her story others will know about the danger.

“Had we been told in 2008 or 2010, had we been told in 2015 when it was declared a Superfund Site, we would’ve moved, and I truly believe my husband would be alive today,” she said.

KRQE News 13 wanted to know if landlords are required to notify tenants about situations like this. We reached out to the EPA for some answers but didn’t get a response back.

All of the units are now empty, with the last renter leaving in 2018.

Anaya has hired a lawyer and is exploring her legal options against the landlords.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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