Citizen Action Response to: Fiscal Impact Report

for House Joint Memorial (HJM) 13

Section: Significant Issues - NMED analysis


NMED states:

"The characterization and cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill has progressed and is ongoing."

CANM response:

Kirtland was aware of this spill, at the latest, in 2000  (1).  "Progressed" suggests adequate "characterization" and "cleanup".  In 14 years, Kirtland and it's contractors have not removed a gallon of jet fuel from the aquifer.  Characterization is minimal, far from the comprehensive effort necessary for a spill of this magnitude.  They have not identified the outer edge of the EDB plume, the horizontal and vertical extent, nor it's velocity.  Despite repeated NMED requests, Kirtland still has not quantified the volume of jet fuel in the vadose zone.  They have no monitoring wells near Ridgecrest production wells as the Bernalillo Water Utility Authority (WUA) required in Resolution 12-14.  Kirtland's 10+ year delay in beginning jet fuel removal from the aquifer has resulted in hydrocarbons now being submerged in the aquifer, greatly complicating cleanup.  

Both characterization and cleanup "progress" is unacceptably slow and non-comprehensive.  

The only "cleanup" has been minimal vadose zone extraction with 2 test SVE systems.

Summary: NMED's statement claims efforts to cleanup the massive jet fuel spill have "progressed" .  Progress is far from satisfactory. 


NMED states:

"Evaluation of interim measures (a short-term response to mitigate the fuel spill) has begun and will continue to be implemented in 2014 as the Air Force works through the procedures of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act so that the NMED may select a final remedy to address the bulk fuel spill."

CANM Response:

"interim measures" has been ongoing since Kirtland hired CM2 Hill as their contractor in 1999.  As described above, progress is dramatically inadequate.  Current NMED leadership has stated they have no RCRA (Resource and Recovery Act) experience.  RCRA requires vast characterization which, 14 years after acknowledging this spill, has not been addressed or discussed.  

NMED states (after listing cooperating state agencies):

"A task force would likely include the same agencies that are currently coordinating to address the fuel spill and would thus be unnecessary in any attempt to accelerate remediation at the site."

CANM Response:

The Memorial states the "independent task force of experts" is to be provided.  Constant turnover in NMED and Kirtland management has led to a fragmented, ineffectual response. NMED lacks experience in remediation of toxic events of this magnitude.

National and local experts must be outside existing agencies which have failed to characterize, plan for and remediate the jet fuel spill and the dissolved plume of EDB.

NMED states:

"Sentry wells have been installed between the leading edge of the contaminant plume and the closest municipal water supply wells."

CANM response:

There is a single sentry well installed approximately 1/2 way between the leading edge of the EDB plume the municipal wells.  This well was determined necessary, paid for and installed entirely through the Bernalillo Water Utility Authority (WUA).  WUA determined this well was necessary, due to the lack of NMED & Kirtland installed sentry wells in this critical area NMED states Sentry wells exist.  WUA has requested reimbursement for this well's installation costs, approx. $220,000: Kirtland has refused.
NMED states:

"A robust water monitoring program has been prescribed by NMED and is being carried out by the Air Force."  

CANM response:

NMED ordered Kirtland to install 11 clusters of 3 "sentry" wells in 2012, most of them in the area NMED describes.  Kirtland installed 3 clusters, and has said publicly the reason was budget constraints could finance only 3, not the 11 NMED ordered.  NMED did not enforce this order, and deferring their orders to Kirtland's diminished requests has been a 10+ pattern.  Kirtland is failing to use appropriate monitoring for EDB detection at the supply wells.  Kirtland refuses to install monitoring near production wells as WUA Resolution 12-14 requires.

NMED states:

"The amount of fuel released over the course of up to 40 years, ending with the removal of the fueling facilities in 2002, is estimated to be 8 million gallons or more."

CANM response:

William Moats of NMED, having worked on this spill for many years, estimated 24 million gallons, 3 times NMED's stated estimate.  NMED Secretary Designate Flynn said in committee hearing on Feb. 6, speaking in opposition to this Memorial, that the volume (how much) of leaked fuel did not matter.  He said they don't know, and they "may never know".  The total volume leaked matters greatly: the greater the volume, the longer jet fuel persists in the aquifer and ground.  Determining reliable approximations of volume spilled is an integral component of EPA characterization guidelines.  Secretary Flynn would do well to press for determining the amount of jet fuel spilled, rather then claim knowing this "doesn't matter".

NMED states:

"The leading edge of the contaminant plume is approximately 1.3 miles from the nearest municipal supply wells."

CANM response:

Multiple statements from NMED, Kirtland's contractor and spokespersons have stated the EDB plume is within 3/4 mile of municipal wells.  The Veteran's Administration well is in immediate danger of EDB contamination.  Multiple NMED documents state the distance as less then 1 mile, and 25% (or more) discrepancy.

NMED states:

"Both short- and long-term remedial actions include remediation of the unsaturated zone, the fuel on and dissolved in the groundwater, and the ethylene dibromide which has dissolved out of the fuel and migrated beyond the Air Force Base property boundary."

CANM response:

No short term or long term plans or actions are in place to address the submerged jet fuel and the dissolved EDB plume.

Kirtland has allowed 80% of the jet fuel spill to migrate underneath Albquerque's homes and businesses.

It is moving towards municipal drinking wells, yet there is no NMED ordered and Kirtland installed monitoring wells within the critical area between the plume and production wells.  NMED has made conflicting statements as to EDB's arrival date at municipal wells, from 5-30 years in recent months alone.  

This vast discrepancy in EDB arrival times alone suggests characterization is inadequate: over 10 years into this project, uncertainty in such a critical public health issue is unacceptable progress.

This Memorial's assembled Independent Experts will investigate on recommend without constraints mitigated by Kirtland's insufficient budget, or political guidance overshadowing science.  



1) Jet Fuel and Aviation Gas (avgas) additives were discovered in and on the aquifer between 2000 and 2002. 

Kirtland document: Notification of Exceedence of Groundwater Standard
Date: 7/24/2001

pg. 1

"We have detected 1,2-Dibromoethate (EDB) in the groundwater beneath the Kirtland AFB Bulk Fuels Facility (BFF). The concentration of EDB detected was 0.21 ug/1, which exceeds the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission Regulation's standard of 0.10 ug/l. The detection occurred during our Mar 01 Long-term Groundwater Monitoring Plan (LTM) semi-annual sampling event."

"The detection of EDB occurred in monitor well KAFB-1061 that was installed and sampling initiated in Nov 00 as part of our Stage 1 Abatement Plan investigation of the release of jet fuel at the BFF."

"Although the Mar 01 LTM Semi-Annual sampling event report has not been finalized, the analytical data have been validated as a confirmed detection." (emphasis added)

Kirtland document (CM2 Hill): Stage 2 Abatement Plan for the Bulk Fuels Facility (ST-106)
Date: 2/14/2002

pg: 2-27

"Low levels of VOCs have been detected in the groundwater at ST-106 and to the south in the well at ST-341 (Table 2-4). The concentrations of benzene and toluene detected are less than the applicable U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), but do indicate that the contaminants have migrated to the drinking water aquifer. The concentrations of EDB, however, have exceeded both the EPA MCL and the NMED groundwater standards." (emphasis added)

Kirtland Document:  Release at offloading Rack, Bulk Fuels Facility, Kirtland AFB

Date: 4/1/02

"Contamination has been detected in the groundwater beneath the site at a depth of 480 fbgs, 180 feet below the vertical extent of the contamination, which also exceeds WQCC standards. The groundwater contamination was caused by downward diffusion of the soil gas to the water table."

(...) Additionally, Ethylene Dibromide (EDB) was discovered in groundwater beneath the site, which is not a component of jet fuels."

pg. 2

"The extent of the contamination is significant and continued corrective action is required. The Relative Risk Evaluation is High based on groundwater contamination and identified receptors."

NOTE: As of Feb, 2014 Kirtland and NMED officials are still saying in public meetings, official statements and elsewhere the Air Force discovered jet fuel on the aquifer in 2007.  Over the last year, CANM has had email and face to face conversations with Kirtland personnel in positions of authority able to correct this 2007 date.  They have been emailed the links to these documents and the quotes above. 

Despite above documents, they continue to cite 2007.

Air Force officials still tell us these "detects" were "phantom" (or false positive) detects: "anomalies".    During this period, 2000-2002, EDB already extended +/- 1 mile east and northeast in the aquifer.