State Land Office remediation project discovers massive buried illegal dumping site in Lea County

New Mexico News

The New Mexico State Land Office discovered an illegal, buried dump site near Lea County. Image was taken before trash and tire removal. (courtesy New Mexico State Land Office)

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico State Land Office reports that in the process of completing remediation project work to clean up a former mining pit on state trust land around Eunice, New Mexico, staff discovered a massive, buried illegal dumping site. The office states that since last being leased, the 3.25-acre site was used to illegally dispose of concrete, various trash, and tires.

The initial project to clean up and safely dispose of waste was made longer and more costly as the trash and tires were not initially visible and were found buried and included 35 tons of trash and 8 tons of tires. The State Land Office’s Restoration and Remediation Fund required an additional $45,000 in order to correctly dispose of the waste at the site.

The removal and disposal of the trash and tires remains ongoing. Staff at the State Land Office say they believe the trash and tires were illegally dumped in the 1970s or 1980s based on site inspections ahead of the approval of the initial remediation project.

“The State Land Office has an obligation to steward state trust land so that it can benefit future generations. Projects such as this, a massive trash and tire removal effort, represent an important part of fulfilling that obligation,” said Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. “Illegal dumping is a legacy issue at the State Land Office as well as in New Mexico. I’m committed to doing what we can to remedy that issue by pushing funds toward these types of projects, but most importantly by seeking accountability.”

The office reports that the land site was last active and leased in the 1970s and the initial project was approved to remediate the site for future use. “Accountability includes using the tools at our disposal to find the bad actors responsible for messes on state trust land. This site was likely trashed long before we had high frequency satellite imagery helping us protect state trust land in the Permian, but we have still reported it to the appropriate regulatory agency and are working in partnership to crack down on illegal dumping on state trust land,” said Garcia Richard in a press release.

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