Read the full article by Scott Wyland (Santa Fe New Mexican)
“After euthanizing several thousand contaminated cows, Art Schaap is losing not only a once-thriving dairy farm but a place where he and his family have lived for a quarter-century.
He has no choice, he said, because the polluted runoff from Cannon Air Force Base that tainted the groundwater, soil and his livestock with cancer-causing chemicals has left Highland Dairy in Clovis an empty shell.
‘This was our home, and it’s devastating,’ Schaap said. ‘Now we’re having to relocate and start all over again. That’s just the cards that we got dealt.’
Schaap euthanized 3,665 dairy cows in phases over the past four years, when he first learned they’d become contaminated with PFAS from drinking polluted groundwater.
PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ because they last indefinitely in the bloodstream, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, impaired immunity and cancer.
Highland Dairy, a 3,500-acre farm, is a casualty in an ever-growing environmental and health issue as PFAS increasingly turn up in public drinking water, private wells and food.
They have been used in firefighting foam, carpets, nonstick cookware and other common household products.
Military firefighter training for years involved using the PFAS-laden foam, which led to toxic runoff polluting groundwater around installations. Those include both the Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases in Clovis and Alamogordo, respectively.
Schaap said he learned of his potential PFAS contamination several years ago when federal regulators began analyzing groundwater in the areas around Cannon. Subsequent tests he conducted on his livestock confirmed his cows were affected, he said.
In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture suspended his license and barred him from selling milk. Companies stopped buying his aging cows to slaughter for beef because they were wary of potentially bad meat, compelling him to euthanize the cows instead.
A big question is what to do with the cow carcasses now half-buried in giant earthen composting pits.
Schaap said he will test the composting soil for contaminants. If it doesn’t contain PFAS, then he will suggest to state regulators the carcasses be fully covered and left where they are.”…