KIRTLAND AFB, N.M. -- Col. John Kubinec, commander of the 377th Air Base Wing and the installation commander at Kirtland AFB, conducted a tour for Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry of the newly upgraded fuel plume remediation equipment Jan. 23 at the base's bulk fuel facility site.
The colonel and the mayor both spoke at the event.
"This is an importantmilestone in our remediation efforts for the jet fuel plume. We're making tangible steps in the right direction on our remediation efforts. This is not the end game but a significant step forward, and shows the commitment we have to cleaning up the fuel plume," said Kubinec.
The mayor echoed Kubinec's comments.
"We're a long way from being done, but having a large production facility in place now to pull fuel out of the ground, while we continue to characterize the extent of the plume, is a great step forward. I drink the same water as the people I serve in this city, so it's important to me as a husband and father that the water coming out of our taps is safe to drink, and it is. Our water is safe today, and that's what we're going to have in the future. The Air Force has taken ownership of this issue and has committed to the long term to make sure this is cleaned up."
According to the Kirtland AFB Environmental Restoration Office, the new hardware, called a "soil vapor extraction catalytic oxidizer," is an improvement and optimization of the existing smaller engine soil vapor extraction units. Wells specifically designed to remove and treat soil vapor to directly address the source (fuel floating on the groundwater table and in the "vadose zone" - the soil between the surface and the groundwater table) are being used.
The new system will be able to treat a larger footprint, allowing for more efficient and effective remediation.
The system is field-tested remediation technology, used successfully at other fuel spill sites across the nation, including New Mexico. Officials say there is a high level of confidence in the technology and its application. In addition to fuel vapor removal, data will be collected from the system continually to evaluate its effectiveness.
The data will be used to determine the best technologies for remediation.
This advancement is the next step in the remediation of the fuel plume and represents the cooperative efforts of the New Mexico Environment Department, the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and Kirtland AFB.