New Mexico wants the military to pay for PFAS pollution costs due to a new EPA rule

The Center Square – (The Center Square). The New Mexico Attorney-General amended the state’s suit against the United States in relation to the contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds around military communities throughout the state. By amending the lawsuit, the Attorney-General capitalized on the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation that went into effect on Monday, 7th July. New Mexico may now sue the United States for costs associated with clean-up and for monetary damages to natural resources.

James Kenney, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, said that for over five years the U.S. Department of Defense has failed to be accountable for PFAS cleanup in New Mexico. This has left New Mexicans to carry a toxic legacy of PFAS contamination. New Mexico’s Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a statement that thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its science-driven leadership regarding PFAS. New Mexico now holds the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the monetary cost of clean-up and damages to our environmental .”

The new EPA rule designated two common PFAS chemicals — perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic — as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. This ensures that the polluters will pay for cleaning up their contamination.

The rule is designed to protect people from health risks associated with ‘forever chemical’ exposure in the community. Exposure has been linked to cancer, liver and heart damage, immune system and developmental problems for infants and young children.

In the amended lawsuit, New Mexico is asking that the federal government cover all costs associated with past and future cleanups, as well as natural resource damages, at Cannon Air Force Bases, Holloman Air Force Bases, Kirtland Air Force Bases, White Sands Missile Ranges, and Fort Wingate.

New Mexico was the first state to take advantage of the new EPA regulation that allows states to hold DOD accountable for cleanup costs in areas impacted with PFAS. These include both public and private sources of water on or near federal military bases.

The term PFAS refers to a grouping of chemicals that are man-made and used in a variety of products. Food packaging, nonstick frying pans and aqueous foams that form a film are all examples.

According to a press release, “growing concerns about PFAS contaminants are driven by evidence showing that exposure to certain PFAS chemicals may lead to adverse health outcomes such as cancer, increased cholesterol and reproductive issues.”