NMED: Española dry cleaners linked to groundwater contamination

New Mexico

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ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) announced Friday that they have issued an administrative compliance order to an Española dry cleaning business for alleged violations of state and federal hazardous waste laws that are linked to groundwater contamination.

According to a news release from the NMED, D. and D. Mountain Air Cleaners, Inc. in Española (Mountain Air) is linked to groundwater contamination in the area, and part of the plume is also located on Santa Clara Pueblo lands. NMED says they are also requiring the business to develop a clean-up plan.

Officials say a plume of contamination consisting of organic solvents common to dry cleaning operations was discovered during the site characterization at the nearby North Railroad Avenue Plume Superfund site conducted by NMED and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They say after an investigation, NMED concluded that this contamination, located near Calle Chavez in Española, is not associated with the Superfund site, but is attributable to Mountain Air, located at 309 N. Paseo De Oñate. The Calle Chavez plume includes concentrations of tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene at levels above federal drinking water and New Mexico state groundwater standards but they say no known drinking water supplies are currently affected.

“Communities like Española and the Pueblo of Santa Clara are at greater risk when businesses disregard environmental laws while regulators lack meaningful resources to assure compliance,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney in the same news release. “We are committed to ensuring proper abatement and holding Mountain Air accountable.”

During further investigation by NMED, it was revealed three violations of hazardous waste laws by Mountain Air, including failure to ensure delivery of hazardous waste to an off-site treatment, storage, or disposal facility; failure to obtain a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal permit; and failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate the facility in order to minimize the potential for the release of hazardous waste to air, soil, groundwater, or surface water.

NMED says they are pursuing actions to hold Mountain Air responsible for cleaning up the contamination. Mountain Air will work with NMED to design an effective plan for the clean-up of contaminated groundwater.

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