The Socorro Superfund Community Advisory Group is looking for community input.

The Community Advisory Group (CAG) are volunteers who coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department to keep the flow of information going between government agencies and the community on the Eagle Picher Superfund site.

Eagle Picher

In the 1980s, the superfund site was the location of a battery factory, which dumped industrial waste in unlined lagoons at the site, contaminating groundwater and creating an underground plume of 1,4-Dioxane, TCE and PCE just south of the Eagle Picher site to the northern part of the New Mexico Tech golf course. Other contaminant concerns include heavy metal contamination for soil at the Eagle Picher site, asbestos and lead-based paints in construction debris, and TCE, PCE and 1,1-DCE for soil gases and vapor intrusion.

According to the EPA’s Eagle Picher webpage, human exposure to those contaminants is under control, but the migration of contaminated groundwater is not stabilized.

The Eagle Picher building has been fenced off.
File photo

In 2022, the EPA announced $19 million in federal funds has been allocated to the cleanup, which is allowing it to move forward.

Technical help

Now the CAG will get help sharing technical information about the superfund site. An environmental engineering consulting firm met with the CAG in early December to help understand the community concerns around the information. Some of the concerns shared in that meeting were the need for help reforming and running the CAG, obtaining translation services, and synthesizing complex information into accessible outreach material.

The consulting firm is SKEO and is being contracted by the EPA.  Over the next month, the consulting firm wants a list of stakeholders they should speak with individually to identify other community needs that they could help with.

The CAG is asking for more community input on how this consulting firm could be helpful.

“Please let me know if you would like me to add you or another relevant community stakeholder as a person that the SKEO Technical Advisory consultants have a private phone chat with to understand the Socorro Superfund CAG’s needs,” wrote CAG volunteer Chair Rebe Feraldi in an announcement soliciting community feedback.

Bridget O’Neill has lived on her property for 11 years, which is near the edge of the plume, but just found out about the superfund site in October after she received a mailing.

“One of the first things that goes through your mind is, why didn’t the realtor say anything about this?”

Learning about the superfund site has been shocking.

“I’m retired now. I’m in my house all day, every day. If I was further over into the plume, it would be weighing on my mind all the time. Whereas now, it’s only weighing on my mind part of the time, but it’s sufficient. Why do I have to live with this?” said O’Neill.

But the CAG website has helped, and so has coming to meetings.

“Coming to the meetings is way more helpful than just the website because we get to talk with the EPA and the New Mexico Environmental Department person,” said O’Neill.

To get added to the list of stakeholders the consulting firm should talk with, email Feraldi at [email protected] with contact information to pass on, or contact the consulting firm’s representative directly: Eric Marsh, [email protected], 817-752-3485.