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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Senators Engage Air Force on Aggressive Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are asking the Air Force to partner with county and state authorities to “conduct further scientific and technical analysis” to determine the scope of the Kirtland jet fuel leak and develop contingency plans for the continued safety of the drinking water.

The Senators, who met with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers in Washington last week for an update on the plume, wrote to him today in support of the Air Force’s goal to cleanup the spill and ensure the area continues to meet federal drinking water standards in the future.

“We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017,” they wrote. “We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water.”

The lawmakers also recommended that the Air Force continue to work in cooperation with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) and the New Mexico Environment Department to continue supporting area well monitoring, evaluating the nature of the plume, and regarding the progress of the cleanup efforts.

“We recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known,” the Senators wrote. “In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.”

The full text of the letter is below: May 24, 2012

The Honorable Terry Yonkers
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
1670 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Assistant Secretary Yonkers:
Thank you for visiting with us last week to discuss the cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) fuel spill in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We truly appreciate your ongoing attention to protecting the health and environment in and around KAFB.

We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017. We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water. We also appreciate the fact that the Air Force is committed to working with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) to ensure there are adequate contingency plans for safe and reliable drinking water in case any existing water wells are ever affected. To ensure success, it is critical for the Air Force to maintain focus on achieving this mission and devoting the financial resources necessary to do so.

We would also like to follow up on our meeting with some recommendations in order to assist in resolving this issue and protecting the groundwater supplies that provide New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area with drinking water. First, we recommend that the Air Force continue to work closely with the ABCWUA and assist them with the necessary resources to conduct further scientific and technical analysis of the size, extent, and characterization of the spill, along with the progress and effectiveness of the cleanup project. While we have no reason to believe that the Air Force’s studies are inadequate, additional analysis would be a great help in maintaining public trust during this project.

Second, we are aware that the Air Force is providing resources to ABCWUA to conduct monthly testing of water wells, which to date have shown no contamination. We urge continuation of this arrangement and expanding it if appropriate to ensure accurate information about the safety of groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Finally, we recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known. In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.

Thank you for your service to our country and your personal dedication to this cleanup project. If we can assist you on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely, Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator/ Tom Udall, United States Senator

May 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM in City of Albuquerque, Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink

Comments

Keep studying it, ok. But, the priority is to effectively clean it up. From what I understand from the previous post, they are siphoning off the volatiles. Well, that is not good enough.

It is going to cost money to clean up and it is going to create some good paying jobs if the Airforce does not completely strip the funding as bureaucrats take their cut of the money all down the food chain before the clean-up equipment and actual clean-up personnel even hit the ground.
If the work is given to private contractors, the funding will have to cover the CEO's and other top managements' 6 figure salaries before any actual problem solvers, workers and equipment get paid for.
As a result, millions may be appropriated by congress for clean-up (fat chance with Republicans in the House) and only a very small fraction of that money actually goes to the real clean-up.
The City of Albuquerque should designate itself as the contractor for clean-up and hire the expertise as municipal employees for dignified wages and benefits. The highest paid guy would be the mayor. More funding would get to the actual clean-up after the Airforce is done stripping out it's lion's share by paper shuffling.

Posted by: qofdisks | May 28, 2012 12:17:44 PM

2017?! That's awful!

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | May 29, 2012 12:02:55 PM