CLOVIS, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) — Tuesday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced, at the urging of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham through a first-of-its-kind petition, that the EPA detailed its intention to list several PFAS chemicals as hazardous constituents under the federal hazardous waste law.
Governor Lujan Grisham’s petition requested that the EPA administrator either list all PFA chemicals as hazardous wastes in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or, alternatively, individually list some of them.
According to New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney, the EPA’s intention to list several PFAS chemicals as hazardous constituents allows all states to require clean-up of these toxic chemicals under their EPA-authorized hazardous waste programs.
Secretary Kenney added what the state of New Mexico has done will lead to more protection for people and toxic chemicals like PFAS from moving into their groundwater, their drinking water, into their land, and affecting their economy. Under federal law and state law, the person or entity that discarded, spilled, or released those chemicals into the environment is responsible for clean up, including the cost of disposal.
“What we really want to stress in New Mexico is that it’s not fair for New Mexicans to bear the cost which exceeds, which if I didn’t say it earlier four-plus million dollars to manage the PFAS contamination around these bases, it’s not an equitable situation for New Mexicans to bear that cost,” said Secretary Kenney.
Art Schaap, a Clovis dairy farmer has been dealing with contaminated water since 2018 and has lost millions of dollars in revenue, due to him having to dump tens of millions of pounds of milk. Schaap has even filed lawsuits against manufacturers of the aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), and another against the Air Force and DOD. He said Tuesday’s announcement is one step closer to justice being served.
“That you can’t just ruin someone’s business and to me, it’s a trespass. They basically ruined our whole business, they ruined our whole livelihood, and for us. It’s very welcoming. We waited three years and we have been fighting for justice, not only for the state of New Mexico but nationwide to set standards,” said Schaap.
According to the New Mexico Governor’s Office, the New Mexico Environment Department will continue to support the U.S. EPA in the development of these rules, which will pave the way for greater cradle-to-grave regulation of PFAS.