MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

Landfill Issues

Southwest Research and Information Center has been providing technical assistance to the communities mentioned below, helping them develop a response to these new landfills. Another new landfill has also been proposed, the Triassic Park Landfill (named for the geologic age of the mudstone beneath the landfill). Located between Roswell and Tatum, New Mexico, this landfill is proposing to take various types of hazardous wastes from sources such as the Maquiladoros (companies based along the U.S.-Mexico border). We will also be providing assistance on this landfill.

SRIC has been working on landfill issues for many years. From providing expert testimony which led to the passage of the Solid Waste Act in 1990, to providing technical assistance to communities to help them keep their communities safe and healthy. We have been working on these and other issues for over 30 years. For further information contact Paul Robinson at 505/262-1862, or via e-mail: sricpaul@earthlink.net.

Wagon Mound no es basuero!

Excerpted from Noticial del CCWM

The citizens of Wagon Mound and the surrounding region want to preserve and protect our environment now and for the future generations. This is the reason that the organization known as the Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound (CCWM) was formed in September of 1999.

For hundreds of years people have settled in the area we know as Wagon Mound because of its beauty and ample supply of water and rich soil that supports wildlife, crops and people.

Wagon Mound has always been an area of very clean air, soil, and water. This changed about a year ago, when on January 6, 2000, a permit was granted to Herzog, Inc., by the New Mexico Secretary of the Environment Department, Peter Maggiore, for the Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill, (NENMRL). This landfill is located five miles north of Wagon Mound. It was granted a permit to accept special wastes from anywhere in the United States. The special wastes that can be accepted under this permit are:

  • Treated Formerly Characteristic Hazardous Waste
  • Asbestos
  • Sludge
  • Packinghouse and Killing Plant Offal
  • Spill of chemical substances
  • Petroleum contaminated soils
  • Industrial Solid Waste
  • Ash (containing heavy metals)

Many of these wastes cause cancer, viral disease, and other health problems. They could contaminate the water supply and pollute the air.

At this time, a new railroad line is being constructed from the railroad in Levy towards the Landfill, a mile away. We believe that this railroad spur will be utilized for the transportation of hazardous waste to the landfill from all over the United States. The CCWM is trying to determine whether or not a valid permit was obtained to construct this railroad spur. The area over which the railroad spur is being constructed has been zoned for farming and ranching under the "Mora County Development Guidance System". In order for the permit to be granted, the zoning ordinance for this area would have to be changed.

The construction of a railroad spur will only facilitate the delivery of these special wastes to our area. We believe that this action could be the beginning of the demise of the pristine environment we know today. It is very important to stop the construction and completion of the railroad spur.

We believe that this region should not be used as a dumping ground for special wastes created by other communities. All communities need to be responsible for the wastes they create, and must not put the burden and dangers of disposing of these wastes on others.


Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound
PO Box 318
Wagon Mound, NM 87752
Attn: Leroy Le Doux 505/666-2262 or
Felipe Garcia 505/668-2005

New Mexico Environment Department
1190 St. Francis Dr.
Santa Fe, NM 87502-0110

Mora County Commissioners
Attn: Emma Duran-Black, Rosalie Regensburg, and Johnnie Espinosa

Wagon Mound Mayor and Village Council
600 Catron Ave.
Wagon Mound, NM 87752

Why in My Backyard?

By Lorenza Dorado, Chaparral Community Health Council

Chaparral, New Mexico is usually a very quiet community of approximately 18,000 residents, but they became very vocal on June 5th, when the public hearings for the landfill proposed by Rhino Environmental Services, Inc. was supposed to have taken place. Instead, the gathering turned into an opportunity for the community to voice their very real concerns about the landfill being planned just two miles north of their community.

These hearings were canceled when it was discovered that the New Mexico Environment Department's Solid Waste Bureau had failed to publish official notification in the newspapers of Otero County - the county where the landfill would be located. The law clearly states that notices shall be posted in the county where the landfill would be located. Because of this, Chaparral Community Health Council's attorney, Maria Laverde of Southern New Mexico Legal Services, filed a motion on June 4th to cancel the hearing. This motion was granted that afternoon.

Up until this time, the coordinating committee made up of volunteers had been hard at work preparing the community for the hearings. Meetings had been held weekly in preparation for such community issues as: transportation to the hearings, childcare services for parents, phone trees, hearing notification, etc. When the coordinating committee heard the hearing was canceled, they decided to continue and instead hold a community meeting to voice their concerns publicly. When the Social Hall at St. Thomas More Catholic Church began filling up at 6:00 pm with people expecting a public hearing, attorneys Maria Laverde and Olga Pedroza explained to the community the events leading up to the cancellation. Upon hearing this, the community burst out into a wave of applause.

Of the more than 400 Chaparral residents who attended, many spoke out about health and other concerns. Children are a top concern for parents, school administrators, and for the community as a whole. Currently, there are several children with asthma, allergies, and skin disorders, and some of them bravely stood up and spoke before the community. They wanted to know why a landfill was being considered when the community has so many other needs, such as a high school, parks, paving, a wastewater system, and other positive community improvements. Sadly, no one present had the ability to respond to this concern - there was no representation from the Otero County Commission or from the El Paso County Commission. Community members have approached the Otero County Commission questioning the landfill, but they have never received any positive response. However Rhino Environmental has, with their offer to the Commission of 10¢ per square yard of waste deposited at the landfill. To the Chaparral residents, this is a very small price for Rhino to pay in exchange for the contamination of their clean air, water, and soil.

In the meantime, the attorneys for Chaparral have filed several motions that resulted in Rhino Environmental, Inc., amending their application, and filing a new notice of amendment to their application. These notices were published in Otero and Do&ntildea Ana Counties, though there are questions concerning the adequacy of these notices. Meanwhile, the Environment Department has filed a Notice of Application for the landfill, the first step in a new hearing process. There are indications that a mid-September hearing date is possible.

Despite this, the community is in good spirits; and residents and have high hopes that their efforts can either delay or completely cancel Rhino's application for such an unwanted, and undeserved landfill so close to their community. In the meantime, the coordinating committee is still preparing for any event that may come up. However, the question they ask still is, "Why in my backyard?"


Chaparral Community Health Council
112 E. Lisa Dr., Suite 104
Chaparral, NM 88021
Attn: Lorenza Dorado 505/824-3391

Southern New Mexico Legal Services
300 N. Downtown Mall
Las Cruces, NM 88001
Attn: Maria Laverde, Olga Pedroza 505/541-4800

Otero County Commission
Otero County Courthouse
1000 New York Ave., Room 101
Alamagordo, NM 88310
fax: 505/443-2904

Community Partners
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"We support the land, people and culture of New Mexico. Our focus is to find out from the people what they love to do and use that to boost their economies. A goal is to bring some unity and equity and to level out the playing field within the arena of economic development for the local population"
-- Terri Bad Hand
Taos County Economic Development Corp.

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