NMED Settles with Cannon AFB

New Mexico reaches settlement with Cannon Air Force Base over alleged permit violations –
Air Force will pay $250K, include PFAS monitoring in discharge permit

SANTA FE NM (9/10/2020) — On Tuesday, the state Water Quality Control Commission approved a settlement agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and Cannon Air Force Base for alleged violations of state environmental groundwater permitting laws.

The agreement addresses an administrative compliance order issued by NMED earlier this year due to Cannon discharging without a groundwater permit and failing to provide NMED with required information about PFAS – a class of manmade chemical with harmful health effects – in the discharged water. Groundwater discharge permits are issued to entities that release wastewater and where contaminants may enter the environment, like domestic wastewater treatment plants, hard-rock mines and other industrial facilities. It is critical that entities know and report to NMED what is in discharged water to ensure the environment and public health are protected.

As part of the administrative compliance order, the U.S. Department of Defense will pay $250,947.60. Cannon submitted a complete discharge permit renewal and modification application to NMED earlier this year, in accordance with the administrative compliance order. The revised draft permit will be available for public review and comment later this year.

“Unfortunately, federal facilities in New Mexico have a history of disregarding state environmental laws,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “The integrity of every environmental regulatory scheme is rooted in compliance. U.S. Department of Defense facilities must comply with permitting requirements to protect our groundwater that New Mexicans rely on for drinking water and agriculture.”

The state remains in litigation with the U.S. Department of Defense over remedying the PFAS contamination at Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases caused by decades of use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams.

Contact: Maddy Hayden, Communications Director New Mexico Environment Department 505.231.8800 | maddy.hayden@state.nm.us