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Cleanup Complete at Portions of South Valley Superfund Site in Albuquerque, New Mexico

09/23/2019
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard at r6Press@epa.gov or 214 665-2200

DALLAS – (Sept. 23, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved the partial deletion of the South Valley Superfund site from the National Priorities List (NPL) of contaminated sites. Three specific areas, or operable units of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, site will be removed from the list. EPA determined that all appropriate cleanup actions in these areas have been completed, and the New Mexico Environment Department concurred.

“Today’s action clears the way for cleaned up portions of the South Valley site to return to the community for redevelopment,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “EPA and our partners have worked at the site over many years to ensure Albuquerque’s water supply stays safe, and with this partial deletion we are closer to the goal of fully addressing the contamination and restoring the aquifer.”

“This is a significant milestone in cleaning up legacy contamination affecting Albuquerque’s South Valley community,” said New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “Successfully restoring the South Valley depends on the environmentally responsible development of these properties that will sustain the protections achieved so far through the Superfund program.”

Under the Trump administration, EPA’s superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill and strengthen the agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. In fiscal year 2018, EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from the Superfund’s NPL, the largest number of deletions in one year since fiscal year 2005 and a significant increase over the past few years.

The site, near the Albuquerque International Airport and University of New Mexico golf course, was home to several industrial and military facilities since its first use in the 1940s. Contamination from volatile organic compounds was found in the groundwater under the site, and it was placed on the NPL in 1982. Since that time, effective remedies have been put in place for Operable Units 1, 2, and 5, allowing EPA to propose and finalize their deletion from the NPL.

  • Operable Unit 1, city of Albuquerque San Jose 6 & 3 wells: These wells were contaminated by VOCs, presenting a potential risk to the city’s drinking water supply. The wells were replaced in April 1987.
  • Operable Unit 2, aquifer contamination: To prevent VOC contamination from migrating from shallower to deeper areas of the aquifer, and to restrict use of groundwater under the site, the responsible party plugged the contaminated wells and other shallow wells in the late 1980s. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed and remain in use.
  • Operable Unit 5, shallow zone aquifer: Contamination in parts of the shallow aquifer was removed through soil vapor extraction and groundwater treatment starting in the early 1990s. The responsible party also excavated and disposed of contaminated soil in this area.

Operable units 3, 4 and 6 remain on the NPL to reach the goals of restoring water quality in the aquifer, treating contaminated soils in other areas, and addressing contamination in deeper areas of the aquifer. Deleted portions of the site remain eligible for future response actions, if necessary. EPA’s proposed partial deletion was open for public comment.

Background

The NPL includes the nation’s most serious hazardous waste sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. EPA deletes sites from the NPL when no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.

One of EPA’s goals for the Superfund program is to return sites to communities for productive use. EPA encourages site reuse throughout the cleanup process, as appropriate, to maximize redevelopment opportunities. Superfund deletions can aid redevelopment efforts by offering a clear signal to developers and financial institutions that Superfund cleanup is complete.

EPA will continue its focus on deleting sites through training and sharing information about the most effective approaches for moving sites to deletion.

Additional information about EPA’s NPL deletions can be viewed at:

https://www.epa.gov/superfund/deleted-national-priorities-list-npl-sites-state

To search for information about these and other NPL sites, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/search-superfund-sites-where-you-live

For more about the site: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/south-valley

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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central  

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