“At this point, a lot of promises have been made by the Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department, yet they continue to delay a serious cleanup process and keep failing to adhere to their own cleanup deadlines.” Javier Benavidez, SWOP Executive Director Initiate
SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) has filed a notice of intent to sue with the US Air Force, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Secretary of Defense and the New Mexico Attorney General over the failure to implement productive measures toward cleaning up the massive Kirtland Jet Fuel Spill.
The letter was filed on behalf of clients Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), New Mexico Senator Cisco McSorley, New Mexico Senator Mimi Stewart and four individual residents of Albuquerque, NM. The letter announces plaintiffs’ intent to sue the US Air Force over the glacial pace toward cleanup of the spill. The letter is a required by law to inform parties that they will be sued after 90 days.
“At this point, a lot of promises have been made by the Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department,” says Javier Benavidez, SWOP Executive Director, “yet they continue to delay a serious cleanup process and keep failing to adhere to their own cleanup deadlines. The community deserves for the Air Force to pull out all the stops, with real consequences, if deadlines are missed.”
“Community members affected by the Kirtland Jet Fuel Spill have expressed serious concerns,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director and lead counsel on the case. “The Air Force is not seriously considering public input on the cleanup plan, has no enforceable benchmarks or deadlines for remediation, and is not overseen by an independent regulator. Efforts to address the spill so far have consisted of wastefully overspending on research instead of making progress on actual cleanup.”
“Ninety million dollars and 16 years have been spent studying the plume beneath multiple communities on the south side of Albuquerque,” says Paul Davis, President and Senior Scientist of EnviroLogic Inc. “Yet the Air Force and the Environment Department resist putting forward an enforceable plan for cleanup. It’s apparent that those who are responsible for the health of the public and the environment are not serious about cleaning up the spill.”
In the April 2015 Kirtland Air Force Base Fuel Spill Strategic Plan, the Air Force and the Environment Department are named as “Project Collaborators” and “Partners.” There is no mention of a regulator responsible for enforcing any schedule or plan.
The lawsuit will demand a plan that implements a true accelerated approach to cleanup with a bias toward action, has an enforceable schedule and is overseen by a specific independent regulator.
Douglas Meiklejohn, Executive Director
New Mexico Environmental Law Center
505-989-9022, ext. 14
Juan Reynosa, Environmental Justice Organizer
SouthWest Organizing Project
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