U.S.

May 24, 2012

N.M. officials: Spill could be as big as 24 million gallons

by Jeri Clausing
Associated Press Chief Medical Writer

A decades-old jet fuel spill threatening Albuquerque, N.M.’s water supply could be as large as 24 million gallons, or twice the size of the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez, state environment officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Officials previously estimated the spill from Kirtland Air Force Base to be about 8 million gallons. But state geologist William Moats, who made the original calculations, recently estimated the spill could be up to three times larger.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989.

Jim Davis, head of the New Mexico Environment Department’s resource protection division, calls the newest calculation a “first-order estimate” based on new data from Air Force monitoring wells. He emphasized that the calculations have not been reviewed, and said no one will really know how large the spill is until it has been remediated.

“It is not knowable,” Davis said.

But he said he is confident the spill can be cleaned up, no matter how large. And while the fuel threatens groundwater, officials have said it poses no threat to people living above the plume.

“The bottom line is this … we take it very seriously,” Davis said. “We are pushing the Air Force and we are going to stay on top of it until it is fixed.”

Kirtland spokeswoman Marie Vanover did not dispute the new estimate.

“There is really no way to carefully measure how much fuel is in the ground,” she said. “What’s important here, as far as the Air Force is concerned, is that regardless of the amount of fuel in the ground we are committed to two things: that the water stays safe and to continue our remediation efforts.”

The fuel came from what officials now believe was a 40-year leak from underground pipes at a Kirtland aircraft fuel loading facility.

The leak was discovered in 1999. In 2007, Air Force investigations revealed the fuel had reached the water table and was moving off the Air Force base, beneath the neighborhoods of southeast Albuquerque and toward the city’s water wells.

Since then, the Air Force, under pressure from the Environment Department, has cast an ever-wider net of monitoring wells, trying to figure out how far the fuel has spread.

Davis said officials still believe no contamination will reach city wells for at least five years. He says remediation will hopefully begin this summer but could take 10 years.

Environmental activists planned to raise the issue at an Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Board meeting.

“Basically they have a larger problem than they thought,” said Dave McCoy of Citizen Action New Mexico. “… They need to begin planning for construction of a water treatment plant to protect Albuquerque’s water supply.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 2, 2014

News: Debris yields clues that pilot never ejected - When investigators were finally able to safely enter the crash site of an F-15C “Eagle” fighter jet on the afternoon of Aug. 27, they made a grim discovery that concluded more than 30 hours of searching – the pilot never managed to eject from the aircraft.  ...
 
 

News Briefs September 2, 2014

Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Aug. 29. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower...
 
 

Unmanned aircraft partnership reaches major milestone

A team of research students and staff from Warsaw University of Technology have successfully demonstrated the first phase of flight test and integration of unmanned aircraft platforms with an autonomous mission control system. The demonstration marks a significant milestone in a partnership between the university and Lockheed Martin that began earlier this year. This is...
 

 

Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy

Raytheon delivered the first Block 2 variant of its Rolling Airframe Missile system to the U.S. Navy as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. RAM Block 2 is a significant performance upgrade featuring enhanced kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver, and an improved control system. “As today’s threats continue to evolve,...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Two Vietnam War Soldiers, one from Civil War to receive Medal of Honor

U.S. Army graphic Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and former Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. The White House announced Aug. 26 that Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. A...
 
 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>