Wednesday, June 15, 2022

U.S. Air Force cost family their dairy farm

 Highland Dairy of Clovis, New Mexico, has been put out of business because a fire retardant used by a nearby United States Air Force base contaminated well water.

The well water and milk have been deemed unfit for consumption, yet the Air Force failed to notify the Art Schaap family for more than a decade after it first had suspicions about the contamination and ordered an inspection.

That was 2009, but it took until 2017 for air force scientists to identify the contamination. It informed New Mexico’s environmental officials, but not the Schaaps or local residents.

After one of the wells tested at 171 times the government’s limits for the contaminants, the business began dumping 7,000 gallons of milk per day, then euthanized 3,665 cattle. 

Their costs and losses, not counting composting of euthanized animals, exceed $6.5 million Canadian.

Even the meat from the herd is deemed unfit for consumption and questions remain about crops grown on the farm. 

There are also concerns, now, that other wells serving residents in Clovis might be contaminated.

The Air Force is trying to shift cleanup costs to the state of New Mexico.

James Kenney, who is head of New Mexico’s Department of the Environment, said “The Department of Defense poisoned Highland Dairy’s cows and the loss is devastating and heart-breaking.

“Rather than take responsibility for its PFAS pollution, the Department of Defense put a family farm out of business and has the audacity to continue its litigation against New Mexico, forcing New Mexicans to pay for the clean-up and legal costs.”

The department estimates it has spent about $7 million Canadian to try to protect communities.

It seems the U.S. Air Force has identified the Schaaps and state government as enemies.