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N.M. Environment Department rolls out website for public to see pollution violations

The silhouette of a drill head, backlit by a vibrant sunset, is visible from Route 550 just outside Farmington, N.M., on Oct. 26, 2021. A hub of energy production in rural northwestern New Mexico, Farmington has deep ties to the oil and gas industry that stretch back a century. (Isabel Koyama / Howard Center for Investigative Journalism

There’s a new way for New Mexicans to track pollution in and around the state.

The New Mexico Environment Department released its update to the Enforcement Watch website on May 1. The website lists active and resolved actions for alleged violations of laws, rules, permits and licenses. NMED labels a case resolved only after it passes through the courts, or in administrative procedures.

It’s all open for anyone to access for free. The Frequently Asked Questions portion of the site offers a space to report tips for violations to the environment, health or worker safety.

In May, NMED added three companies to the site. This includes a Midland, Texas oil and gas company, EOG Resources Inc. It is accused of transporting naturally occurring radioactive material in sludge without the proper permit.

Another was a self-reported notice of violation for Oxy USA Inc. at its battery facility near Magdalena. The company self-reported air quality violations in 2019, but also appeared to be operating without a permit, but under a pre-permit called a notice of intent.

Finally, the agency sent Dan Dee Dairy near Dixon, a notice of potential groundwater violations for improperly storing manure and wastewater in unlined pools.

A handful of the active matters have been open for years. The oldest was opened in 2019 against Brothers Plating Co. for improper storage of hazardous sludges and not keeping weekly inspection documents.

Others include public institutions, such as the University of New Mexico.

In March, NMED sent a 13-page letter detailing issues from mislabeling chemicals, improper handling at the chemistry building at the Albuquerque main campus, to wrongly disposing flammable paper towels from a violin-making class.

NMED plans to update the site as new violations are issued or past notices are resolved, according to a press release.

Additional violations of the cannabis and hemp rules, drinking water and food safety are “coming soon,” according to the website, but it’s unclear when those portions will be public.