Community shares concerns over contamination near Holloman Air Force Base | KOB 4
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Community shares concerns over contamination near Holloman Air Force Base

Faith Egbuonu
March 14, 2019 10:26 PM

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — New Mexico sued the U.S. Air Force earlier this month over groundwater contamination at two bases. The toxic chemicals, known as PFAS have been detected in the water near Holloman and Cannon Air Bases. 

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Community members shared their thoughts, questions and concerns about contamination near Holloman Air Force Base at the Otero County Commission meeting on Thursday morning.

Dennis Mcquillan, the chief scientist at the New Mexico Environment Department, wants the public to be educated and aware of PFAS.

"We were here today to brief the Otero County Commission on the status of investigation that's underway of the PFAS contamination of groundwater in Holloman Air Force base," Mcquillan said. 

PFAS are toxins that can have serious health effects in both humans and animals. NMED says the city water in Alamogordo is fine, but the main concern now is private wells. 

"The city wells are located miles away, and there's just no possibility we can see that the contamination can migrate from the Air Force base 6 to 12 miles to the east to contaminate the city wells. The city water we are confident it's safe. If there is a hazard from drinking water, it will come from people who have private wells close to the base, but off base, and this is why we are providing free testing for people that have wells in that area," Mcquillan said. 

However, one local rancher believes to further avoid panic in the community, there should be "scientific proven data" for PFAS in the city of Alamogordo first. Colt Howland owns a ranch in Alamogordo and believes testing city residents' water would give them a peace of mind — something he has as a rancher.

"We have nothing to be concerned with the water. We pump water 48 miles every day to get these cows clean water, even the cows that are closest to Holloman, they're drinking this water that's pumped in from the same place that the city of Alamogordo's water is pumped from," Howland said.

He believes Clovis should be a top priority concern right now.

"Really the focus needs to stay on Clovis where they have proven scientifically there is a problem that people are affected," Howland said.

A local rancher in Clovis said last month some of his water wells tested positive for PFAS contamination from Cannon Air Force Base. 

Overall, NMED says they just want to ensure the community's safety.

As for those private wells, some sample testing was done a few weeks ago and results have not come back yet.

Credits

Faith Egbuonu

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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