New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez Files Amended Complaint for ‘Forever Chemical’ Cleanup Under New EPA Regulations

Santa Fe, NMThis afternoon, the New Mexico Department of Justice, New Mexico Environment Department, and the New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee filed an amended complaint against The United States, The United States Department of the Army, and the United States Department of the Air Force, for contaminating natural resources and endangering public health with PFAS.


The amended complaint highlights several new elements to the state’s claims:
    1. Adding other PFAS contaminated sites outside of Cannon Air Force Base: Holloman Air Force Base, Kirtland Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range and Fort Wingate
    2. Listing the U.S. Department of the Army as a new defendant to the complaint for its culpability in allegedly knowing about PFAS contamination
    3. Seeking costs, damages, and other relief from the Department of Defense under the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) PFAS regulations.


“We applaud the EPA’s listing of certain PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals,’ as hazardous substances under the Superfund statute,” said Attorney General Raúl Torrez. “This enables us to pursue monetary damages and costs at federal facilities, as stated in our amended complaint. We are committed to holding all responsible parties, including federal agencies, accountable for their contamination to protect public health and safety.”


“For over five years, the U.S. Department of Defense failed to take accountability for PFAS clean-up in New Mexico – leaving New Mexicans with a legacy of toxic PFAS pollution to shoulder,” New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said. “Thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s science-driven leadership on PFAS, New Mexico will now hold the U.S. Department of Defense accountable for the monetary costs of clean-up and damages to our environment.”


“The releases of PFAS into the ground surrounding Cannon Air Force Base and other DOD facilities have injured the most valuable natural resource on Earth – our water. PFAS has now contaminated freshwater aquifers on which the communities and hardworking people of New Mexico depend,” New Mexico’s Natural Resources Trustee Maggie Hart Stebbins said. “Our residents suffer when they can’t use that groundwater and it’s time for the federal government to compensate communities that are bearing the burden of its pollution.”


Developed in the 1940s, PFAS chemicals have been widely used for decades in fire-fighting foams and a wide variety of water and grease-proof products like nonstick cookware, carpets, clothing, and outdoor gear. Because of that, they are ubiquitous, commonly found in the environment and in the blood of nearly all Americans. Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are mostly known for their resistance to oil, heat, water and other elements. PFAS have contaminated our air, soil, surface water, groundwater, drinking water, wetlands and other natural resources. PFAS has also been scientifically proven to increase the risk of liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, infertility and cancer.


Find the amended complaint here.


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