timeline of EVENTS
Residents of Curry and Roosevelt Counties were advised by the U.S. Air Force that Cannon Air Force Base’s utilization of cancer-causing PFAS fire-fighting chemicals over several decades had caused contamination of certain water resources in these areas. Despite these conditions, no meaningful action has been taken by the Air Force or the Defense Department to remediate the contamination in our water supplies and the State of New Mexico has indicated that it lacked resources with which to conduct tests..
In December 2019 Congress passed a law (PL 116-92, the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act) requiring the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress with a remediation plan for PFAS clean-up at Cannon Air Force Base (and other military installations) by not later than June 2020. The Air Force was authorized to treat or substitute agricultural waters impacted by PFAS contamination and also authorized to purchase real property in proximity to Cannon Air Base in support of its remediation plans.
In March 2019 a lawsuit was brought by the New Mexico Attorney General and state Department of the Environment against the U.S. Department of Defense seeking to compel the federal agency’s development of a plan for the clean-up of the contaminants. The community received information about the lawsuit in a briefing in April 2019 and no further insights have been forthcoming.
In January 2020 the Clean Water Partnership – Cannon was formed to advance the interests of its members and the broader Clovis, Portales and Cannon Air Force Base communities in Curry and Roosevelt Counties toward the goal of securing clean and plentiful water supplies for residents, industry, agriculture and recreation and the improvement of the quality of life in the community.
In September 2019 the Curry County Commission authorized the filing of a Notice of Claim against the U.S. Department of Defense related to loss of the tax base caused by the contamination of real property and dairy herds. After an administrative claim brought by the County was denied, the County brought suit against the U.S. Department of Defense in the US District Court in Albuquerque, NM.
In February 2020 the City of Clovis’ water utility, EPCOR, announced that PFAS contaminants had been found in 10 of the 80 wells EPCOR relies upon to provide municipal water to the city of 35,000 residents. While eight of the wells contaminated reflected compositions of PFAS from other urban stormwater sources, two of the wells – one located more than 4 miles from Cannon and the other more than 5 miles from Cannon – have a chemical profile matching the PFAS contamination from the Air Base.