The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Gas plume remediation work to go through August


May 12, 2019

CLOVIS — A public meeting Wednesday detailed what will no doubt fuel public frustration, no matter how well remediation work goes on a gasoline plume near the Commerce-Prince intersection.

The New Mexico Environment Department Petroleum Storage Tank Bureau and contractor Daniel B. Stephens and Associates held the meeting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library to spread public awareness of a gasoline plume cleanup project. It’s set to begin in late May near the frequently congested Commerce-Prince intersection.

Work is set to begin May 29 and continue through mid-August, with drilling to groundwater levels at around 325 feet to install a pair of monitoring wells and a pair of remediation wells.

Tom Golden, an engineer with Stephens and Associates, said workers will do as much as possible to minimize motorist inconvenience.

Two closures are anticipated:

n Golden said around June 4, Commerce would only be accessible through right turns to facilitate work that is expected to last four days.

n Access from Commerce Street to the parking lot will be closed at a date to still be determined with property owners, with hopes for mid-July.

An investigation initially began in 2011 on the plume, first discovered when an Allsup’s convenience store replaced its tank system in conjunction with a store renovation. Starting in 2014, it became evident to the bureau that Allsup’s wasn’t the source of the plume.

“It got more contaminated (farther) away from the Allsup’s site,” Golden said.

Investigation continued offsite and more contamination was found around where Commerce Street ends — the site of a former “Y station” that was in operation until the 1980s.

Walter Bradley, who owns the nearby Twin Cronnies restaurant, said it was important to note those former gas station operators shouldn’t be turned into the villains of the story, as they never intended to pollute and there were no regulations on gasoline storage tanks to break or follow.

Because there is no available responsible party, the state is taking the lead in the cleanup efforts.

The plan is to do sonic drilling, which would produce less soil cutting and require less water than other methods. Contamination would be removed through a dual-phase extraction process, by vacuuming out the vapor portion and then pumping and treating the groundwater. Stephens and Associates plans to send the treated water through the city’s sewer system, where it can be used as effluent water.

Bradley had concerns when he found out a nesting well would be installed on the southwest corner of his property in 2016. But he was pleasantly surprised with how the drilling crew worked with him to minimize any disturbance to his business, and said they turned out to be pretty frequent customers as well.

Golden said the state is using the same company, and that the area is an ideal job site since it has a grocery store, a drug store and numerous restaurants within a short walk.

Once the investigation is concluded, Golden said another public meeting would be likely in October where, “we’ll talk about the results of the investigation and the path forward.”

The plume is unrelated to water contamination near Cannon Air Force Base, and work isn’t anticipated to impact water service or other utilities.

There is no evidence the plume has had any impact on the city water supply, officials have said. The plume’s location is an estimated 3,500 feet, or two-thirds of a mile, from any city-owned wells. At an estimated movement range between 10 and 100 feet per year, even a pessimistic estimate says the plume wouldn’t encroach on city wells for more than 30 years.

Still, Golden said, “This is a direct threat to groundwater in Clovis, and we want to make sure we eliminate that threat.”


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