New Mexico targets DOD with ‘forever chemicals’ rule

By Ellie Borst | 07/09/2024 01:35 PM EDT

The state is the first to use the Superfund rule in an effort to recoup PFAS contamination cleanup costs.

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D).

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D) said the Department of Defense has "taken little action to remediate PFAS contamination in the State." Morgan Lee/AP

New Mexico became the first state to take aim at the Department of Defense — the culprit for widespread “forever chemicals” contamination — with EPA’s rule making PFAS polluters liable for cleanup costs.

Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D) expanded the state’s 2019 complaint in hopes of recouping at least $12 million in past and future cleanup costs at DOD sites contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Torrez filed the amended complaint Monday, the same day EPA’s rule, finalized in April, took effect. That rule designates two of the most notorious compounds in the PFAS family, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, aka the Superfund law or CERCLA.


DOD has “taken little action to remediate PFAS contamination in the State, and have failed to cooperate or coordinate with the State regarding the contamination and their response thereto,” Torrez wrote in a memo to the district court. “Meanwhile, the PFAS contamination has continued to spread.”