Environmental Clean-up

New Mexico – The state Environment Department will take the lead in cleaning up a petroleum contaminated area that has hampered construction plans for a new judicial complex for Santa Fe County.

The department and the county drilled test wells after the courthouse site was excavated. The wells revealed the extent of the contamination, which resulted in part from leaking underground storage tanks from former gas stations in the area.

Gov. Bill Richardson said the best course of action would be for the department to lead the effort because the area has various sources of contamination and several petroleum remediation sites across private, county and city property.

Richardson said he's particularly concerned about potential contamination of the Santa Fe River if the site isn't cleaned up promptly.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.