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State officials now manage McGaffey Superfund site

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The New Mexico Environment Department is now in charge of remediation and control efforts of the McGaffey and Main Street Superfund site. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The state of New Mexico is now in charge of the remediation efforts at one of the city’s two Superfund sites.

“The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is taking over the operation of a soil vapor extraction/vapor intrusion mitigation system (SVE/VIMS) … that (the) EPA has been operating for the past few years,” Maddy Hayden, a public information officer with the Environment Department, said in an email.

The site now managed by the state is known as the McGaffey and Main Street Groundwater Plume.

As part of the transition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided the Environment Department with a $350,000 grant.

The funds will help with ongoing remediation efforts and allow the state, in cooperation with the city of Roswell or other entities, to continue its work to determine the extent and nature of the contamination, according to an EPA statement.

A five-year review published by the EPA in September 2017 indicates that remediation began in 2012. The 550-acre groundwater plume, and the subsequent soil and air vapor issues, are attributed to the operation of two dry-cleaning operations in the 1100 block of South Main Street from 1950 to 1963. Those businesses released tetrachloroethylene and tricholoroethene into the groundwater.

In January 2018, Environment Department officials said the plume has moved south and southeast and has reached to Atkinson Street to the east and beyond Poe Street to the south. They held meetings with and sent postcards to local residents in south Roswell who have private wells for their water supply to tell them not to use the water unless it has been tested.

A Superfund site is an area of significant environmental contamination for which the federal government assumes cleanup costs and actions because responsible parties cannot be identified immediately or are no longer in existence. In some cases, companies or individuals are later determined to be legally responsible and required to reimburse the government.

Roswell has another Superfund site called the Lea and West Second Street site, which actually consists of four different contamination areas on East and West Second Street.

The EPA, working with the Environment Department and contractors, conducts quarterly tests of soils and vapors for those sites and has installed groundwater monitoring wells, as well, but EPA Program Manager Janet Brooks said that it will still be a couple of years before a remediation plan can be developed for those areas.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.