City And County Approve Groundwater Site Cleanup Order

Las Cruces, NM – Construction is set to begin on a facility to extract the chemical perchloroethylene, commonly referred to as PCE, from groundwater in the area of Griggs Avenue and Walnut Street in central Las Cruces.

In February the Environmental Protection Agency issued an order demanding that the city and county clean up the Griggs and Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund Site.

They also called for full payment of the remediation- around twenty million dollars.
However, local officials disputed having to pay the full cost, arguing that the National Guard had contributed to the pollution and should pay part of the costs. The investigation left the city's share at around four million dollars.

Utilities Director Dr. Jorge Garcia says Wednesday's action will allow time to develop a consent decree between the city, county, the EPA and the state and federal National Guards for funding and project finance.

Garcia-"We will continue to work with the EPA on achieving a consent decree, an order doesn't limit our future liabilities only a consent decree does. So, in the next twelve months while we are constructing the project we will be pursuing those negations with state and national guards."

City officials say the contaminated water isn't a part of the drinking water supply. The contamination wells were discovered in 1996 and immediately taken off line.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by May 2012.