State regulators said they have fined an Española dry cleaner $56,000 for violations of hazardous waste laws linked to groundwater contamination.
D&D Mountain Air Cleaners was accused of improperly disposing of dry cleaning chemicals.
The New Mexico Environment Department said Friday it discovered a plume containing hazardous chemicals near Calle Chavez in Española. Part of the plume was on Santa Clara Pueblo.
The plume contained elevated levels of tetrachloroethene, a chemical often used in dry cleaning products.
After an investigation, the Environment Department concluded the contamination was caused by D&D Mountain Air Cleaners.
Richard Beaudoin, manager of the dry cleaning business, called the state’s allegations “baseless.”
“The only comment I would have is there’s been no evidence presented to that effect yet,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s just the state made an allegation and now they’re saying, ‘You owe, you owe,’ and we’re saying, ‘Fine, go ahead and show us the evidence you have.’ And they don’t have any evidence. To me, they’re just scamming us.”
The business was accused of failing to ensure delivery of hazardous waste to an off-site disposal facility; failing to obtain a hazardous waste disposal permit; and failing to design, construct, maintain and operate its facility to minimize the potential for the release of hazardous waste, according to a news release from the Environment Department.
The enforcement action filed by the state requires the business to develop a plan for disposing of hazardous waste. The Environment Department also is seeking to hold the business responsible for cleaning up the contamination.
“Communities like Española and the Pueblo of Santa Clara are at greater risk when businesses disregard environmental laws while regulators lack meaningful resources to assure compliance,” state Environment Secretary James Kenney said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring proper abatement and holding Mountain Air accountable.”