Water contamination puts New Mexico dairy farmer out of business

New Mexico

A New Mexico dairy farmer says he may have to kill thousands of his cows and he’s dumping out tens of thousands of gallons of their milk daily.

He says it’s all a result of the water contamination caused by Cannon Air Force Base and the firefighting foam they used.

For 27 years, Art Schaap has been running Highland Dairy in Clovis. Last year, he found out the milk he was producing here was no good.

“We can’t sell our cows, we can’t sell our milk. So basically we have no income,” he said.

The farm borders Cannon Air Force Base. The New Mexico Environmental Department discovered water from wells within a four-mile radius of the base had chemicals from foam used to fight fires in it, which can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.

“We’re living it every day. It saddens me to see my cows suffer, and what really scares me is the unknown of the health of our family,” said Schapp.

He’s currently dumping 15,000 gallons of milk a day, has had to let go of 40 employees, and may have to euthanize all of the cows if they can’t be sold for beef.

Schaap is going on four months with no income. As far as efforts to work with Cannon Air Force Base, he says he’s reached out but they’ve refused to do anything.

“They have no solution. Their solution is, ‘I hope it goes away.’”

He’s now suing the chemical companies that produced the chemical foam, like 3M and Dupont.

Schaap says thankfully, local and county governments have been very supportive.

He says he keeps in contact with state lawmakers too, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was there on Wednesday.

“The advisory levels are good enough to put me out of business, but it’s not good enough to keep the air base accountable for what they’ve done,” said Schaap.

The companies named in the lawsuit have not filed a response yet.

Schaap has also filed a tort claim against Cannon Air Force Base. KRQE News 13 reached out to them, but they said they don’t comment on pending litigation.

Many other Air Force bases are also dealing with the effects of the firefighting foam, including Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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