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Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Mike Stag, Esq.
The Kirtland AFB Water Contamination Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
See If You Qualify

Kirtland Air Force Base Water Contamination Lawsuit Overview

Kirtland Air Force Base started as a training field leased to support military aircraft in 1939. Base construction began in 1941 as World War II approached, and it was named Albuquerque Army Air Base before it was renamed Kirtland Air Field in 1942. The base operated at full capacity throughout World War II and was later headquarters for the regional air defense operations. Kirtland has been home to multiple operations including the Air Force Special Weapons Center, the Air Force Space Technology Center, the Air Force Global Strike Command, the Air Education and Training Command, and more. 

Today, the base employs more than 23,000 people. Its host organization, the 377th Air Base Wing, has more than 1,2000 military personnel, 600 federal civilians, and 700 contractors. Unfortunately, those stationed at the base today and in previous years have dealt with harmful water contamination with chemicals that can cause cancer and other life-threatening conditions. If you’ve consumed contaminated water at Kirtland AFB and were diagnosed with a related illness, you could be eligible for compensation through a military base water contamination lawsuit.

Kirtland Air Force Base Water Contamination Lawsuit Updates

2024 – Victims of Kirtland AFB Water Contamination File Lawsuits

Alongside thousands of other victims across the United States, individuals exposed to contaminated water at Kirtland AFB are now filing lawsuits against chemical manufacturers. King Law is reviewing and accepting cases where individuals were exposed to a toxin like PFAS and developed illnesses like testicular cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer. To ensure your eligibility for financial compensation, reach out as soon as possible to confirm your legal options. 

2019 – New Mexico Coalition Prepares to Sue the Air Force Over Jet Fuel Contamination 

A jet fuel leak from Kirtland AFB was found in 1999 but is suspected to have originated back in the 1950s. With contamination concerns continuing through 2019, state lawmakers and nonprofits in New Mexico formed a coalition that filed an intent to sue over the safety risk to the public and environment. The coalition called for a strict, agreed-upon set of deadlines and penalties for cleanup.

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History of Toxic Exposure at Kirtland Air Force Base

2023 – Air Force Makes Progress Cleaning Up Jet Fuel Contamination While PFAS Investigations Continue

From 2015 to 2023, there was a mass reduction in groundwater fuel contamination, dropping down to almost 0%. However, PFAS continues to be a concern at the base. The most recent 2023 published update notes that a Preliminary Assessment and Site Investigation are completed for Kirtland AFB with Remedial Investigations underway.

2021 – Kirtland AFB Tap Water Tests Positive for Multiple Contaminants

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Tap Water Database provided a 2021 update based on data from 2013 through 2019. Kirtland Air Force Base tested positive for multiple contaminants, 13 of which exceeded EWG Health Guidelines. Arsenic exceeded this health benchmark by 763 times. 

2017 – PFAS Site Inspection Conducted at Kirtland AFB 

Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) is a type of firefighting foam used for decades at military bases across the United States, including at Kirtland AFB. Because the firefighting foam was manufactured with PFAS, a group of cancer-causing chemicals, the Air Force decided to conduct an assessment to determine the presence and extent of PFAS at the base. There were four sites of interest including fire training areas, a foam spray area, and a spill area. 

2015 – Groundwater Cleanup Begins at Kirtland AFB 

Cleanup efforts to address jet fuel groundwater contamination began in 2015. Cleanup was initiated with combined efforts of the Air Force, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Water Authority, and the City of Albuquerque. 

1999-2007 – Kirtland AFB Discovers Large Jet Fuel Leak Impacting Groundwater

Aviation gasoline containing ethylene dibromide (EDB) was handled from 1953 through 1975. The base discovered a large leak in 1999 and fuel constituents were found in groundwater at the base in 2001. Jet fuel was identified in groundwater in 2007 before impacting the aquifer and drinking water for those at the base.

Kirtland Air Force Base Water Contamination Map

Our Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination map shows four key areas of concern where firefighting foam was used and likely contributed to PFAS groundwater contamination. These sites include two fire training areas, an AFFF spray area, and a spill area. These locations are spread across a significant portion of the base in close proximity to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Also depicted is the location for Kirtland’s jet fuel spill. While the spill occurred within the base installation, the plume spread into Albuquerque affecting multiple communities situated near the Air Force base. 

Contaminants Found in Kirtland Air Force Base Drinking Water

Like numerous other military bases across the United States, Kirtland AFB has detected numerous contaminants in drinking water. Contaminated water affects not only those stationed at the base but also those in neighboring communities. Two of the largest contaminants of concern at the base include PFAS from firefighting foam and EDB from jet fuel. 

Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals that have been used in firefighting foam until recent efforts to find a safer alternative. Air Force bases frequently use the foam for fire training exercises and to prevent or put out fires from crashes, spills, and other incidents that present a fire risk. The foam could be sprayed directly on the ground or spilled during storage and transport, introducing PFAS chemicals into the ground where it can contaminate soil and water. Unfortunately, exposure to PFAS is linked to:  

  • Birth defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Changes in liver enzymes 
  • Decreased vaccine effectiveness
  • Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Lowered immune response 
  • Multiple-myeloma
  • Kidney cancer 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Reproductive issues
  • Testicular cancer 
  • Thyroid cancer 
  • Thyroid disease 
  • Ulcerative colitis

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple-Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Keep in mind that high amounts and long durations of exposure can increase the above risks. Therefore, individuals with evidence of high levels of long-term exposure often have a stronger case for recovering damages. 

Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)

Ethylene bromide (EDB) is a synthetic chemical commonly found in aviation fuel. It’s released during fuel use, storage, transport, and spills. In cases like the Kirtland AFB jet fuel spill, EDB can enter the ground and contaminate drinking water supplies. EDB is linked to: 

  • Respiratory issues 
  • Liver and kidney toxicity 
  • Reproductive harm 
  • Increased risk of cancer 

Other Contaminants 

Other toxins found in Kirtland AFB water at concerning levels include: 

  • Arsenic
  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Bromoform
  • Chloroform
  • Chromium
  • Dibromoacetic acid 
  • Dibromochloromethane
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Haloacetic acids 
  • Nitrate 
  • Total trihalomethanes
  • Uranium

These chemicals are linked to a range of adverse health effects impacting the reproductive, nervous, respiratory, digestive, and immune systems.

Current Water Quality at Kirtland Air Force Base

The most recent water quality report available for Kirtland AFB is from 2022 and lists no violations. However, thousands of military personnel, their families, federal workers, and civilians have already been exposed to toxic drinking water for decades and are susceptible to life-threatening illnesses. 

Water Treatment Efforts at Kirtland Air Force Base

Most of Kirtland AFB’s water treatment efforts have focused on removing EDB from groundwater after the jet fuel spill. This was done through the installation of 174 groundwater monitoring wells, use of a soil vapor extraction system, installation of a pump and treat system, and monitoring with EDB biodegradation and pilot bioventilation tests. In terms of PFAS, Remedial Investigations are still underway.

Health Risks and Symptoms Linked to Drinking Water at Kirtland AFB

Consuming water contaminated with PFAS can cause the following illnesses:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer 
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Kidney cancer 
  • Leukemia 
  • Liver cancer 
  • Multiple myeloma 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Testicular cancer 
  • Thyroid cancer 
  • Thyroid disease 
  • Ulcerative colitis 

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple-Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Individuals risk even more adverse health conditions if they were exposed to additional chemicals like EDB or arsenic in their drinking water. Furthermore, PFAS builds up in the body over time and does not break down. So long-term exposure increases public safety risk.

Eligibility Criteria for Kirtland AFB Water Contamination Lawsuit

To file a Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination lawsuit, you must meet the following requirements: 

  1. Were you exposed to a toxin like PFAS for at least six months? Six months of exposure is usually necessary to build a substantial case. 
  2. Were you diagnosed with a related illness? You must have a medical diagnosis of an illness connected to your toxic exposure. 

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple-Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

If you know you’re eligible or are just starting to explore your options, contact us today and we can help confirm your legal options while answering any questions or concerns you may have about the process. .

Kirtland AFB Water Contamination Settlement Amounts

Based on similar lawsuits, we predict Kirtland AFB water contamination cases could settle at around $30,000 to $500,000. Your potential payout will vary based on the strength of your case. Some cases, such as those with limited evidence, may settle at a range of $30,000-$75,000. Strong cases, such as those with a severe diagnosis and long-term exposure, could settle higher toward $1,000,000. 

Once you schedule a consultation with us, we will be able to review the details of your case and provide a better understanding of your financial award eligibility.

How to File a Kirtland AFB Water Contamination Lawsuit

Here’s what it will look like to file a Kirtland AFB water contamination case: 

  1. Start by scheduling a consultation with an experienced attorney, like those at King Law. Rest assured that this meeting is free with no obligations. 
  2. Gather as much evidence as you can detailing your time at Kirtland AFB, your exposure, your related medical issues, and your financial damages. 
  3. Support your attorney as they build and file your case on your behalf in the appropriate court. They may require additional information or evidence. 
  4. Consult with your attorney to determine if you want to reach a settlement with the defendant or if you’d like to pursue a verdict in court. 
  5. If your claim is successful, you will be awarded compensation that can be used for damages like medical expenses, treatment costs, lost wages, and more. 

Keep in mind that many water contamination cases resolve with a settlement. While jury verdicts can result in higher award amounts, compensation is not guaranteed and the process can take much longer. Settlements can improve your chances of walking away with financial support and may resolve quicker. An attorney with experience handling toxic torts will advise which option is best for your case. 

Evidence to Support Your Kirtland Air Force Base Claim

Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination claim evidence can include: 

  • Proof of diagnosis: Health records, doctors’ notes, medical history, details of your treatment, etc.
  • Proof of time at Kirtland AFB: Dated and official military records, directives, discharge paperwork, etc. 
  • Proof of toxic exposure: Water quality reports, press releases, government documentation, etc. 
  • Other information: Expert testimonies, environmental studies, site assessments, military statements, witness testimonies, etc. 

Evidence can make or break your case, so work with your attorney to collect as much as possible to improve your chances at recovering compensation.

Statute of Limitations for Kirtland AFB Water Contamination Claims

Personal injury claims must be filed within a certain length of time after an injury or diagnosis. This deadline is referred to as a statute of limitations, which varies by the state in which you file. For New Mexico, personal injury claims must be filed within three years. Certain factors could shorten or lengthen your deadline to file a claim, so be sure to start the process as soon as possible. 

Kirtland Air Force Base Water Contamination Lawyers

Working with an attorney who has experience handling environmental cases can help improve your opportunity for a significant financial award. At King Law, we have a strong background of representing individuals impacted by water contamination and have the necessary expertise and resources to advocate for you with the utmost confidence. 

While the legal process can seem daunting, we will offer you support, compassion, and guidance from the moment you schedule a consultation through your case’s resolution. Don’t delay and reach out to us to schedule a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Continue learning about Kirtland AFB water contamination and filing a related lawsuit by exploring answers to frequently asked questions. 

Is Kirtland Air Force Base water safe to drink?
While recent water quality reports don’t indicate violations, toxins have impacted the safety of Kirtland AFB drinking water for decades.
What are the toxins in Kirtland Air Force Base?
Kirtland AFB water has tested positive for PFAS, EDB from jet fuel, arsenic, and several other toxic chemicals.
Is Kirtland Air Force Base a Superfund site?
Yes, Kirtland Air Force Base is a Superfund site but is not on the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL).
What is the lawsuit about Kirtland Air Force Base?
Individuals who consumed toxic water at Kirtland AFB are now filing lawsuits against chemical manufacturers to recover damages associated with medical bills, lost wages, and more.
What are the environmental issues at Kirtland Air Force Base?
Military activity at Kirtland AFB, including the use of firefighting foam and jet fuel, has led to water and soil contamination. This has introduced public and environmental safety risks.
What are the deadlines to file a Kirtland Air Force Base lawsuit?
Statutes of limitations outline when you must file a Kirtland AFB lawsuit. This deadline varies by state and the circumstances of your individual case.
What health conditions are associated with Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination?
Kirtland Air Force Base may cause kidney cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, ulcerative colitis, and several other illnesses.
What evidence do I need for my Kirtland Air Force Base lawsuit?
You must have evidence showing you were exposed to a toxin at Kirtland AFB for at least six months and that you were diagnosed with a related illness. Other evidence such as financial damages will help support your case.
How long will the Kirtland Air Force Base lawsuit process take?
Kirtland Air Force Base lawsuits can take several months or longer to resolve, emphasizing the need to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to begin the process and avoid delays.
What steps should I take if I was affected by the Kirtland Air Force Base contamination?
Prioritize medical care as soon as you experience adverse health effects related to contaminated water. To pursue legal action, contact an attorney for an initial consultation and to confirm your lawsuit eligibility.
What is the average payout for the Kirtland Air Force Base lawsuit or settlement?
Kirtland AFB settlements can range from $30,000-$500,000 with an estimated average settlement amount of $250,000. Depending on the strength of your case, you could see a settlement closer to $1,000,000.
Is PFAS in Kirtland Air Force Base water?
Yes, PFAS has been detected in Kirtland AFB water.
What steps has Kirtland Air Force Base taken to address the PFAS contamination?
Remedial Investigations are underway to determine what action is needed to remove PFAS from water at Kirtland AFB. All efforts so far have been focused on addressing EDB contamination after a prominent jet fuel leak.
What are the main contaminants found in Kirtland Air Force Base's drinking water?
The main contaminants impacting Kirtland Air Force Base’s drinking water include PFAS and EDB from jet fuel. Arsenic has also been found at concerning levels in tap water at the base.
Who is eligible for the Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination lawsuit?
Those exposed to a toxin for at least six months at the base prior to developing a related illness may be eligible to file a Kirtland AFB water contamination lawsuit.
How can individuals affected by the Kirtland Air Force Base water contamination file a lawsuit?
To file a Kirtland AFB toxic water claim, schedule a consultation with an attorney and begin collecting evidence to support your case.