Toxic plume of pollution from military base poisoning groundwater, dairy farm…and more


Click to enlargeDon J. Usner/Searchlight New Mexico

Art Schaap and some of 4,000 dairy cows on his farm in Clovis, New Mexico. He has to kill all of them.

❝ For months, Clovis, New Mexico, dairy farmer Art Schaap has been watching his life go down the drain. Instead of selling milk, he is dumping 15,000 gallons a day – enough to provide a carton at lunch to 240,000 children. Instead of working 24/7 to keep his animals healthy, he’s planning to exterminate all 4,000 of his cows, one of the best herds in his county’s booming dairy industry.

The 54-year-old second-generation dairy farmer learned last August that his water, his land, his crops – even the blood in his body – were contaminated with chemicals that migrated to his property from nearby Cannon air force base…

❝ “This has poisoned everything I’ve worked for and everything I care about,” Schaap said. “I can’t sell the milk. I can’t sell beef. I can’t sell the cows. I can’t sell crops or my property. The air force knew they had contamination. What I really wonder is, why didn’t they say something?”

❝ There is plenty the air force could have said. It has for decades been aware that PFAS chemicals are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. By 2000, industry scientists and the Environmental Protection Agency had meticulously documented that they persist in the environment for millennia. They are linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, lowered immunity and high cholesterol, among other serious health problems.

They have poisoned the groundwater at 121 military bases across the US…

Read the stinking details. Please. The Pentagon, Federal Government, State Governments – have all known about the danger and like all tidy criminals didn’t do a damned thing about it. Civilians, urban and rural alike, have had to sue the military every time this crap comes up to get any compensation.

The ideology of a permanent warfare state demands that civilians matter least, the military and whatever they say they need is the highest priority in these United States.

10 thoughts on “Toxic plume of pollution from military base poisoning groundwater, dairy farm…and more

  1. Heads up says:

    “Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) identified communities in five states, where they plan to test for human exposure to per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Those are the same chemicals that contaminated the groundwater below Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases. …But New Mexico isn’t on the list of five states where testing will occur.” http://nmpoliticalreport.com/2019/02/27/cdc-identifies-communities-to-test-for-pfas-but-none-are-in-new-mexico/?mc_cid=0bc81edcf6&mc_eid=4b85ca587f
    CDC Press Release 2/21/19: “CDC/ATSDR to Assess PFAS Exposure in Communities Near U.S. Military Bases” https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0221-cdc-atsdr-pfas-exposure.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0221-cdc-atsdr-pfas-exposure.html

  2. Update says:

    (The Hill 3/5/19): New Mexico sued the U.S. Air Force on Tuesday over water contamination, arguing that the federal government has a responsibility to clean up leftover plumes of toxic chemicals, according to an Associated Press report.
    Regulators say that groundwater at the Cannon and Holloman air bases is contaminated with chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, according to the AP.
    New Mexico alleges that the contaminated water poses “an immediate and substantial danger” to surrounding communities, according to the AP. The air bases reportedly affect water basins which serve thousands of people.
    PFAS have been found at dozens of bases and manufacturing sites across the country, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to say it will roll out a plan to limit the cancer-causing chemicals.
    Democrats have accused the EPA of dragging their feet on implementing PFAS limits in drinking water. There are currently no enforceable drinking water standards related to the chemicals. https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/432704-new-mexico-sues-air-force-over-groundwater-contamination-at-bases (see links)

  3. p/s says:

    Veterans and their families are grappling with the military’s toxic legacy : ten percent of Superfund sites are military installations that are increasingly vulnerable to climate change (Grist 3/6/19) https://grist.org/article/military-families-can-face-their-biggest-threats-at-home/
    Also: The Union of Concerned Scientists also studied water samples from 131 U.S. military sites and found that a majority contained PFAS levels up to 100 times above what the ATSDR report identified as a safe amount.

  4. Update says:

    “Scientists Dig Into Hard Questions About The Fluorinated Pollutants Known As PFAS” (NPR April 22, 2019) https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/04/22/708863848/scientists-dig-into-hard-questions-about-the-fluorinated-pollutants-known-as-pfa “…”Despite their everyday use, the body of science necessary to fully understand and regulate these chemicals is not yet as robust as it needs to be,” acknowledged the assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, David Ross, at a congressional hearing on PFAS in March.
    This year, the EPA signaled that it is considering setting a legal safety limit for some PFAS in drinking water, but it hasn’t acted yet. …In most cases, U.S. chemical regulations do not require that companies prove a chemical is safe before they start selling it. It’s up to the EPA to determine whether a substance is unacceptably dangerous and under what circumstances, and typically such analyses begin only after public health concerns are raised.
    “We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect, and address PFAS.”
    EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. See https://www.desmogblog.com/andrew-wheeler

  5. Update says:

    New Mexico officials find themselves stonewalled by the United States military over water contamination from two U.S. Air Force bases in the state. http://nmpoliticalreport.com/2019/05/24/nm-officials-await-word-from-air-force-on-pfas-contamination/?mc_cid=d2a1959a9c&mc_eid=4b85ca587f
    In response to the groundwater contamination, New Mexico issued notices of violation against the military in late 2018 and again earlier this year. The state also filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to act on, and fund, cleanup at the two bases.
    But New Mexico is also a defendant in a separate case. After NMED issued a notice of violation against Cannon, the Air Force sued New Mexico, challenging the agency’s authority to compel PFAS cleanup under its state permit. (see links)
    In early May, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Secretary James Kenney asked the Air Force to close public access to Lake Holloman, after tests revealed high levels of toxic chemicals in the water. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6025099-AG-NMED-DEmand-Letter-to-AF-050919.html Balderas and Kenney asked officials to respond by May 16 regarding their “willingness to comply and your interest in further discussions related to this matter.” As of press time on May 23, the military had still not responded.
    The lake, which consists of treated effluent from the base and has levels of PFOA more than 80 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level, remains open to the public.
    See also https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/05/10/new-mexico-wants-to-close-lake-on-holloman-air-force-base/

  6. Jack Squat says:

    New Mexico’s governor says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect public health and the environment by not helping the state with a legal battle over contamination at two U.S. Air Force bases. (Aug 6, 2019) https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2019/08/06/guv-accuses-epa-of-neglecting-duties-in-pfas-contamination-inaction/
    “[EPA’s] decision to not do everything under its current enforcement authorities–whether judicial or administrative–is inconsistent with its mission to protect public health and the environment. Further, it is a demonstrative example of EPA’s failure to uphold compliance with federal environmental laws,” Lujan Grisham said in an August 2 letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
    She added that Wheeler had “personally committed” to U.S. Senator Tom Udall “to assist NMED with legal and technical assistance in a confidential manner” at an April Senate Appropriations hearing.
    The EPA said it has provided technical assistance to the state in the form of fact sheets on PFAS in dairy, and a webinar presentation on the contaminants.
    Lujan Grisham said that’s not enough.
    “Providing factsheets and offering webinars are not meaningful legal and technical assistance in pursuit of state and federal claims that would compel the U.S. Air Force to take responsibility for delineating the PFAS plume, remediating it and protecting our communities,” she said in the letter.
    The EPA said earlier that it won’t join the state in litigation, saying it is “not permitted to bring a judicial action against another Executive Branch department or agency,” in a letter to the Governor dated July 19. “EPA’s direct and confidential participation in judicial litigation against DOD would conflict with the unitary and uniform execution of the law.”

  7. Got Milk? says:

    ‘Everyone is watching New Mexico’: Update shows no progress on PFAS clean up (Nov 7, 2019) http://nmpoliticalreport.com/2019/11/07/everyone-is-watching-new-mexico-update-shows-no-progress-on-pfas-clean-up/?mc_cid=99ff23dd9a&mc_eid=4b85ca587f
    “Sitting before the state legislature’s interim committee on radioactive and hazardous materials, Walter Bradley told lawmakers to look at a red dot on a colored map provided to each member.
    “That red dot is a $20 million dairy facility that is now worth zero,” Bradley, who handles government and business affairs for Dairy Farmers of America, told committee members. “There’s no money, [the farmer] can’t sell his milk, he can’t sell his cows, he’s completely bankrupt. That dot is right next to the Cannon Air Force Base fire training facility.”
    Bradley, who was Lieutenant Governor under Gary Johnson, spoke alongside Stephanie Stringer, director of New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) resource protection division, to give the interim committee an update on the PFAS contamination issues in the state before the next legislative session.
    Handout with map: “Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances Contamination at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Januray 8, 2019 update” https://www.nmlegis.gov/handouts/RHMC%20110419%20Item%205%20PFAS%20Contamination%20at%20Cannon%20Air%20Force%20Base.pdf

  8. Brockovich says:

    The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) fined the United States Air Force $1.7 million for multiple violations of state law regarding PFAS chemicals. http://nmpoliticalreport.com/2020/01/10/nmed-fines-u-s-air-force-1-7-million-for-pfas-contamination-at-cannon-afb/?mc_cid=e0ac87c4f7&mc_eid=4b85ca587f
    NMED announced late Thursday that the department issued an administrative compliance order to the Air Force for unlawfully discharging wastewater without a groundwater permit at Cannon Air Force Base since April 1, 2019.
    Cannon Air Force Base is one of two military installations in the state where PFAS chemicals have contaminated groundwater. The base’s groundwater discharge permit expired at the end of March 2019 and has not been renewed.
    In January 2019, the Air Force sued NMED after the department issued a notice of violation for PFAS contamination of groundwater at Cannon. In March 2019, NMED and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to cleanup PFAS contamination at both Cannon and Holloman Air Force Base. The Air Force did not renew its groundwater discharge permit after entering into litigation with NMED.
    NMED is now asking the Air Force to pay $1,699,872.60 in civil penalties and submit a discharge permit application within 30 days. The department said it may assess penalties of up to $25,000 per day for “continued noncompliance.”

    See also “The House just voted to regulate PFAS. Here’s what you need to know” (PBS Jan 10, 2020) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/the-house-just-voted-to-regulate-pfas-heres-what-you-need-to-know

  9. Cassandra says:

    “Researchers: Synthetic chemicals in soils are ‘ticking time bomb’ : Synthetic chemicals that were released into the environment for the first time 80 years ago have been linked to harmful health effects, and more of them are migrating slowly from the soil, according to University of Arizona research” https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/researchers-synthetic-chemicals-soils-are-ticking-time-bomb
    “A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater has garnered much attention in the last few years.
    The reported levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil, according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
    Nearly 3,000 synthetic chemicals belong to the PFAS class. They have been used since the 1940s in food packaging, water-resistant fabrics, non-stick products, pizza boxes, paints, firefighting foams and more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
    The chemicals don’t break down in the environment, nor in the body, and a growing number of research papers have shown that PFAS contamination in water sources is widespread in the United States and that exposure is harmful to health.”

    American Geophysical Union, Water Resources Research (Vol. 36 Issue 2) January 10, 2020
    “A Mathematical Model for the Release, Transport, and Retention of Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Vadose Zone.” https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019WR026667

  10. Update says:

    (June 9, 2020): U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation to provide for annual blood tests for service members and former service members, who served at military bases contaminated by dangerous PFAS chemicals. https://www.fosters.com/news/20200609/sen-shaheen-pushes-for-pfas-testing-for-military-members
    The former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth and Newington is one of more than 600 military installations in the United States that have been contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The chemicals are more commonly known as forever chemicals.
    Shaheen’s legislation, the PFAS Exposure Assessment and Documentation Act, would provide for current and former service members to get their blood tested for PFAS chemicals during their annual periodic health assessment (PHA).
    “PFAS News Roundup: Indiana restricts PFAS foam, Wisconsin utility sued, 651 military bases likely polluted” (3/25/20) https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/03/pfas-indiana-wisconsin-new-york-landfill-military/
    “Senate Bill to Offer $2 Billion Annually for PFAS Cleanup” (March 12, 2020) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/2-billion-annual-pfas-cleanup-would-start-under-senate-bill [No Republican cosponsors]

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