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Udall, Heinrich, Lujan Grisham Secure Key Commitments from U.S. Air Force to Address Fuel Spill at KAFB

Seek national expertise to determine scope of fuel spill and ensure adequate cleanup

Meeting with Assistant Secretary to the Air Force

U.S Senator Martin Heinrich meets with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Kathleen Ferguson, May 21, 2104. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham secured key commitments from the U.S. Air Force to address the impacts of a major fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) that has been affecting the base and the region since the 1950s and threatens the city’s water supply.

They also urged the Air Force to move quickly to develop a final remediation plan for the spill. While several studies have been done, they have reached conflicting conclusions about the size of the spill and how quickly it is spreading. The lawmakers further requested the Air Force secretary consult with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the existing spill studies to better determine the size and scope of the spill and the cleanup plan, and ensure remediation efforts will safeguard the community’s water.

“Protecting the community’s water is critical to public health, and residents have waited too long for a complete picture of the impact of the spill. I welcome the Air Force’s commitment to meet the state’s deadline and ramp up action at the site,” Udall said. “I also urge the Air Force to move quickly with the National Academy of Sciences. In the past several years, estimates of the spill have ranged widely. Bringing in further national expertise will ensure the cleanup is based on the most accurate scientific and technical information, and that we are doing everything possible to protect the water supply."

“Protecting our water supply is of paramount importance to New Mexico, especially at a time when water is scarce. It is long past time for actual cleanup of KAFB's major fuel spill. I am glad the U.S. Air Force has made these commitments and will provide the necessary funding to restore our water supply to ensure it is safe and secure,” said Heinrich, who met with Air Force Assistant Secretary Kathleen Ferguson last month to discuss the fuel spill at KAFB and secure key commitments.

"I appreciate that Secretary James is making this issue a priority for the Air Force, and she is listening to the New Mexico delegation and our constituents," Lujan Grisham said. "Kirtland is a key partner in the community. I want to work together to ensure the safety of our drinking water."

This week, the New Mexico lawmakers wrote two letters regarding the spill. They requested the NAS study in a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. And they outlined the commitments in a letter to Air Force Assistant Secretary Kathleen Ferguson, who will be visiting Albuquerque this month to learn about the fuel cleanup at KAFB firsthand.

The Air Force has committed to:

• Meet the New Mexico Environmental Department’s (NMED) interim deadline for implementation of treatment technologies by June 30, 2014. 

• Implement the aerobic treatment measure, along with the seven additional requirements stated in NMED’s letter dated May 12, 2014, to provide information that is critical for removing the contaminants and ensuring a safe water supply.

• Hire a senior civilian to be stationed at KAFB to oversee the remediation process and provide the full continuity and attention the fuel cleanup at KAFB deserves. 

• Provide an updated version of the milestone calendar included in the March 2011, KAFB, New Mexico Bulk Fuel Facility Spill Assessment Report.

• Ensure whatever funding is necessary be provided.

A copy of the letter to Secretary James is available HERE.

A copy of the letter to Assistant Secretary Ferguson is available HERE.