Contaminated water cleanup begins at Kirtland AFB

Posted at: 10/30/2013 6:37 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Back in 1999, a major fuel leak was discovered underneath Kirtland Air Force Base.    

The leak had started back in the 1950s. It's contaminating the aquifer that feeds the Duke City's water supply. There are concerns it could reach the city's drinking water.

"We know the contamination has moved a mile from the former fuel facility and is about 4,000 feet from the closest drinking water well," stated Ryan Flynn, the Deputy Secretary for New Mexico Environment Department.

Finally, a joint effort that includes the NMED, Albuquerque Water Utility Authority, and the Air Force will get the ball rolling for a solution to clean up the mess.

"This pumping will not last long, but will provide critical information for the next set of tests which will also occur here," Flynn said.

This test, known as a "Step-Test" will pump out 70,000 gallons of contaminated water little by little.

Once the contaminated water is pumped out, it is sent to temporary mobile tanks, where it will be tested and cleaned.

If this type of cleanup is successful, it could lead to a removal process on a more permanent basis, but there is still a lot of uncertainty.

Maggie Hart Stebbins, the liaison between ABCWUA and the Air Force, says that "without aggressive measures, the contamination could represent a threat to our precious drinking water supply, the water Albuquerque needs to succeed and grow."