Las Cruces, New Mexico and Dona Anna County wonder why the National Guard isn’t paying its share for a $15 to $20 million cleanup of perchloroethylene (PCE) in that city at North Solano Drive and East Hadley Avenue. They contend the Guard was responsible for most of the pollution that now affects the groundwater there.
From 1947 to 1990 the Guard either leased or owned the land that now holds the city’s boxing gym and aquatics center. National Guard personnel from the era claim PCE was used on the site between the 50s and 70s and that it was disposed of either on the ground or simply went down the former armory’s drains.
The Guard’s own technical documents show PCE specified for use in cleaning engines, small arms and armaments. PCE was first detected in city wells in 1993 and by 1995 it had exceeded allowable levels. Five wells have been shut down and the area is now the Griggs and Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund site. The Environmental Protection Agency originally named the city as the potentially responsible party but after the city and county collected more information it became clear to them the contamination was largely attributable to the National Guard.
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