October 2, 2008

Chava Trucking Proposes Cleanup Plan ; Firm Fined Nearly $1 Million in April

By Juan-Carlos Rodriguez Journal Staff Writer

Chava Trucking Co., which was on the receiving end of a nearly $1 million fine by the New Mexico Environment Department in April, has come up with a plan to start cleaning up its mess.

The business, located at 6313 Broadway SE, was busted by NMED for what it says was improper management of hundreds of lead-acid batteries, thousands of gallons of used oil and other "unknown wastes" at the site. NMED says the business has had multiple unauthorized discharges of petroleum hydrocarbons and water contaminants throughout the property since the violations were discovered in the summer of 2004.

Chava Trucking was fined $581,000 for the hazardous waste citations, and $404,254 for the water quality citations.

The so-called "abatement plan" proposes the collection of soil samples, installation of monitoring wells and collection of groundwater samples to define the extent of soil and groundwater pollution, according to NMED.

Bart Faris, an NMED scientist, said the process has taken a while for Chava Trucking because it repeatedly asked for and received extensions.

Chava Trucking is one of several South Broadway businesses to be targeted by NMED for environmental problems. Guzman Construction and the Cal-Maine Foods Inc. egg factory have also been cited recently for violations of groundwater and solid waste regulations.

"This area has been zoned for industrial and commercial uses," Faris said. "Consequently, some of these businesses have not operated the way they should have. And the city is growing around it, people are moving in."

NMED says it discovered the Chava Trucking violations during unannounced visits between 2004 and 2007.

The investigations were a result of a joint environmental task force the department formed with the Mountain View Neighborhood Association.

The task force was created in 2004 and was composed of residents of the neighborhood, NMED, the Bernalillo County Office of Environmental Health and Albuquerque's Environmental Health Department. Its purpose was to tackle some of the many environmental problems that face the heavy industrial area of Mountain View by cracking down on environmental regulation violations by businesses.

NMED still has to approve Chava's proposed plan. After a plan is approved, the public will have a chance to weigh in on it and even request a hearing or meeting.

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