Tucumcari residents voice concerns following petroleum spill

Tucumcari residents voice concerns following petroleum spill
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KFDA) - Multiple agencies are investigating the cause of a petroleum spill in Tucumcari.

City officials say the sewage overflow happened at the intersection of Tucumcari Boulevard and Date Street.

A manhole overflowed after a recent heavy rain, causing a petroleum product to flood city streets.

The overflow caught the eye of resident Rick Haymaker Monday evening. He said he knew instantly something was wrong.

"Almost immediately after the rain stopped, the real heavy smell of some sort of petroleum product, diesel, kerosene kind of smell," said Haymaker. "It's not nearly as strong but it's still here."

The neighborhood at risk is the Powell Addition, which could impact farmers like Robert McCoy.

"It was a bad deal," said McCoy. "That well is our life."

It's unknown if the product will affect McCoy's water well, but the city is advising residents in the area to not use the wells and to avoid open flames.

"I was afraid if it caught a fire it might burn my house down," said McCoy. "We have a garden and we have some animals we have to feed. We're gonna have to move. It's hard for old people to move you know and I can't build back what we've got."

The source of the petroleum product hasn't been identified just yet.

City Manager Jared Langenegger said they've been investigating different fueling stations and travel centers in the area.

"At this point we're working on containment," said Langenegger. "We had our streets crews out yesterday containing what standing water was left, we had out waste water crews out pumping out the standing water to remove as much of the contaminant as possible."

He went on to say the challenging part is determining what's contaminated.

"We're really not sure what the extent of the contamination is right now," said Langenegger. "We don't know what the product was or what volume was released so that's what we're trying to works towards resolving."

The New Mexico Environment Department Resource Protection Division and the Water Protection Division inspected the area, taking soil and air samples to try to identify the source.

The NMED Hazardous Waste Bureau has made contact with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 Office who are scheduled to be on scene tomorrow, August 3rd to evaluate the situation.

There is no timeline of when the petroleum product will be cleaned up.

Residents who don't have access to city water can contact the City to make arrangements at any time at (575)461-5996.

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