Bloomfield, NM - A few years ago, a paving company working in the middle of the small town of Bloomfield, New Mexico accidentally pulverized a large amount of asbestos-containing pipe, spreading asbestos dust all over town, according to a story aired by KRQE TV. Now, the town is mired in another asbestos controversy, this one having to deal with the disposal of the toxic material.
The story reports that contractors working on a highway expansion project this spring and into the summer illegally disposed of asbestos materials twice, according to a report by the New Mexico Environment Department.
Apparently, contractors working on Highway 64 uncovered 400 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil and asbestos pipe from the middle of Bloomfield, population about 8,000. The material was then transported to what is referred to as a “landfarm”, officials say. There they dumped the asbestos and the contaminated soil…out in the open with no cover or anything else to stop the spread of fibers, which can cause mesothelioma and other diseases if inhaled.
Disposal of asbestos at the landfarm is not allowed, stated Benny Kling, an NMED inspector and Bloomfield resident, as it is not licensed for toxic waste.
“They haven’t really explained how it happened,” Kling said. “I had difficulty understanding how 20 loads would have been taken there without oversight.”
The violation was reported and the refuse was then taken to a licensed asbestos facility in Utah, Kling told the media. That occurred in April. Less than 3 months later it happened again, says Kling. As a matter of fact, he saw it with his own eyes.
As a result of these incidences, the city is considering requiring contractors to provide proof they’ve properly disposed of asbestos they dig up in the city of Bloomfield. In the meantime, the companies that were responsible for the illegal disposal could be facing steep fines.