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EPA Proposes to Add Roswell Site to Federal Cleanup Priorities List

Release Date: 9/13/2001
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to add the McGaffey and Main Groundwater Plume in Roswell to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) announced today.  

     The site is being proposed for the NPL because a chemical used in dry cleaning operations has been detected in the aquifers underlying a portion of downtown Roswell and poses a potential threat to municipal and private drinking-water sources.

     "Adding this site to the Superfund list makes federal dollars available, allowing EPA and the NMED to speed their cleanup and meet the agencies’ commitment to protect public health and our environment," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     NMED Secretary Peter Maggiore said, "The New Mexico Environment Department is working closely with the EPA to address problem sites such as this one. Continued cooperation between our agencies, as well as with local officials,  is essential to clean up contaminated properties, particularly those threatening public health and environmentally sensitive areas."

     The site is near the intersection of McGaffey and South Main streets in Roswell.  The area around the site is primarily occupied by commercial and industrial companies, although residential areas are located to the south.  Perchloroethylene (PCE) has been detected in the groundwater and thus could pose a potential threat to municipal and private drinking water supplies.  The Superfund project will remove to acceptable levels the contamination from PCE.

     A former dry cleaning facility, Lee Mack Laundry and Dry Cleaners, operated from 1956 until 1963 at the South Main Street location.  PCE was used in the dry cleaning operations and may have been discharged behind the facility.  Chlorinated solvents such as PCE are heavier than water and readily sink in groundwater; very small amounts of these chemicals can contaminate large volumes of soil and groundwater.

     The NMED discovered the PCE groundwater plume in November 1994 and has monitored for contamination levels subsequently.  In 2000, NMED detected PCE in groundwater samples collected from 13 of 16 private groundwater wells down-gradient of the site.  PCE contamination has been identified throughout the shallow alluvial aquifer for approximately a mile southeast of the site.

     The EPA Superfund program works closely with state agencies to clean and restore uncontrolled contaminated properties. Superfund cleans sites when the work required is beyond the resources of state and local agencies.

     The EPA will seek public comments for 60 days on adding this site to the NPL. Those comments will be addressed before the Agency makes the final decision about adding the site to the NPL. During this public comment period, the Agency will continue to develop cleanup plans so that actual work may begin as quickly as possible after NPL listing.

     The public comment period will end on November 12, 2001.  More information on making comments is available on the EPA web site at

     Additional information about the McGaffey and Main Groundwater Plume site is available on the EPA web site at