Clovis settles dump dispute

Staff and wire reports

The state Environment Department has reached a settlement with Clovis over alleged air violations at the city’s regional landfill.

The department announced Monday the city has agreed to pave the landfill’s perimeter road, which is expected to reduce dust emissions and protect the health of local residents from particulate matter in the air.

Clovis also agreed to pay the state a civil penalty of $2,625 and complete a supplemental environmental project for a cost of at least $13,300, which could be similar to the paving project.

City Commissioner Catherine Haynes said the cost to pave the perimeter road will be about $50,000 — about the same amount originally levied against the city as a fine.

“We don’t necessarily agree with it, but we’re happy we can do something for the citizens instead of just paying a fine to the environment department,” Haynes said.

Haynes said the matter was a miscommunication with the state due to an unwritten understanding between the city of Clovis and the administration of former Gov. Gary Johnson.

“When you get new elected officials they are anxious to go in and make changes, but the practices of the old administration don’t necessarily match what went on in the new administration,” Haynes said. “The new secretary wants to do everything to the letter, by the books, but of course they have to answer to the federal authorities so New Mexico won’t be in trouble.”

“This is a good deal for the state, for the city and for the people of Curry County,” Environment Secretary Ron Curry said Monday. “What this department tries to do, above all else, is protect and improve our environment. This agreement will lead to cleaner air for the people of Clovis.”

The settlement stems from a November 2003 notice of violation issued by the department, which accused the city of violating state air regulations and its state permit.

Alleged violations included failure to submit monitoring and compliance certification reports and failure to record the date and frequency of water use.