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The Fruit Avenue Plume site is a contaminated groundwater plume located in downtownAlbuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico. The site is approximately bounded by LomasBoulevard to the north, Sixth Street to the west, and Tijeras/Martin Luther King Avenue to thesouth. The eastern boundary of the site has not been fully characterized; however, it is currentlydefined as far east as Edith Boulevard.

In April 1989, as part of a routine compliance sampling, the City of Albuquerque EnvironmentalHealth Department (AEHD) detected tricholoroethene (TCE) at a Coca-Cola Bottling Company(CCB) production well at a concentration of 14.5 parts per billion (ppb) that exceeded the maximumcontaminant level of 5 ppb. TCE was reportedly never used as part of CCB operations. Additionalsampling conducted in July 1989 identified TCE at 13.1 ppb. Based on these data and therecommendation of AEHD, CCB discontinued use of the well in July 1989. In 1997, the CCBoperations relocated, the building was demolished in the fall of 1999, and the well was subsequentlyplugged with cement.

Since 1989, AEHD and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) have conductednumerous investigations to determine the contaminant source, the vertical and lateral extent ofgroundwater contamination, and whether contaminants have affected supply wells in the area. Theformer Elite Cleaners site was initially identified as a primary source of groundwater contamination.Additional investigations identified other potential contaminant sources. However, NMED's 1999Background Investigation concluded that only the underground storage tanks located in the formerElite Cleaners site could be linked to the groundwater contamination observed at the Fruit AvenuePlume site. The underground storage tanks were removed in 1989 and the site data indicate thatthere are no other source areas that could significantly contribute to groundwater contamination inthis area. The site was characterized except for the eastern boundary of the plume, which is believedto be at least as far east as the Saint Joseph Hospital supply well and possibly as far east as thePresbyterian Hospital well.

ATSDR classifies this site as a no apparent public health hazard. This classification is based on thefact that municipal water supply wells in the area have not been affected; therefore, no exposures areoccurring. Some supply wells were contaminated and were plugged and abandoned; however, somewells are still used as backup wells. Specifically, the American Linen (Exclesior) well is reportedlystill used as a backup water supply well, the Presbyterian Hospital well (which has shown 1 to 2 ppbTCE contamination), and the Saint Joseph Hospital well (which was shut off in 1997 due to TCEcontamination). Sampling data from 1997 and 1998 did not identify contaminants of concern in theAmerican Linen (Exclesior) well. However, 1998 sampling data from the Saint Joseph Hospital wellidentified TCE at 10 ppb. NMED began working on the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study(RI/FS) for the site; it estimates the work will be completed in the fall of 2000.


This public health assessment will review and evaluate all the available data associated with theFruit Avenue Plume site to determine whether health effects could occur from exposures to the contaminants found in groundwater. ATSDR will also review new data as it becomes available and update this document or prepare other documents as the need arises.


The Fruit Avenue Plume site, formerly known as the Elite Cleaners or Albuquerque IndustrialCenter site, is located in downtown Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico (Figure 1,Appendix A). The site is bounded by Lomas Boulevard to the north, Sixth Street to the west, andTijeras/Martin Luther King Avenue to the south. The eastern site boundary is currently defined asfar as Edith Boulevard (Figure 2, Appendix A). The highest chlorinated solvent contamination wasidentified on the property formerly owned and operated by Elite Cleaners. The site was proposed forinclusion to the National Priorities List (NPL) on July 22, 1999 and was added to the NPL onOctober 22, 1999.

Contamination was first discovered in 1989, as part of a routine sampling event at the Coca ColaBottling Company (CCB) that identified tricholoroethene (TCE) at concentrations that exceededfederal guidelines [1]. As a result, and following AEHD recommendations, the Coca-Cola BottlingCompany discontinued use of the well in July 1989 and started using municipal water [1]. SinceCCB was not identified as a contaminant source, the city of Albuquerque and NMED beganinvestigating potential contaminant sources [1].

Land use is primarily commercial and light industrial and to the east of the site, is mixed commercialand residential. There are on-going efforts to revitalize the downtown Albuquerque area. However,future land uses are unknown [1]. Census data indicate that 21,559 people live within a 1-mileradius of the site. Of those, 66% were white and 54% were of Hispanic origin; less than 1% werechildren ages 6 or under, 14% were adults ages 65 years old or older, and 25% were females ages15 to 44 years old (Figure 6, Appendix A). Data from the Bernalillo County Tax Assessors Officeindicates 700 residences within a ½-mile radius of the site, and approximately 44,000 residenceswithin a 4-mile radius of the site [11]. According to the 1998 Bureau of Business and EconomicResearch at the University of New Mexico estimates, the city of Albuquerque has a total populationof 419,311. Demographic information for the city of Albuquerque indicate that approximately 30%of the total population are of Hispanic origin.

The City of Albuquerque relies on water from the Sante Fe Group aquifer as its sole source ofdrinking water. New Mexico and the Albuquerque Basin have long histories of imbalance betweenwater needs and availability. The climate is such that naturally occurring surface water supplies arenot dependable. As such, groundwater is the primary source of water for urban, rural, commercial,and industrial uses in the Albuquerque Basin. Albuquerque operates 91 groundwater supply wellsproviding drinking water to more than 400,000 individuals. Thirty-one of these wells are completedin the Sante Fe Group aquifer within 4 miles of the site. No contaminants at concentrations ofconcern have been identified in these wells [1]. According to the city of Albuquerque, there are sixmunicipal supply wells within a 1-mile to 2-mile radius of the site that serve 9,385 individuals [11].

The Santa Fe Group aquifer is interconnected, has no regional confining layers that separate theshallow and deep groundwater resources, and should be considered as a single layer. For theBackground Investigation, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) divided the aquiferinto three categories: shallow, intermediate, and deep [1]. The definitions for the different aquiferscan be found in the glossary of this document.

In December 1989, NMED initiated a Preliminary Assessment of the area surrounding the CCBwell in an attempt to identify the contaminant source. Five potential sources of groundwatercontamination were identified, including the former Elite Cleaners site. More investigations wereconducted from 1990 through 1998 to identify the source of the contamination and assessgroundwater conditions. The investigations included collection and analysis of subsurface soilsamples, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, and collection and analysis of groundwatersamples. TCE and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) were detected in a number of groundwater samples[2].

The former Elite Cleaners site was initially identified as a contaminant source. Though additionalpotential sources of contamination were identified, data collected was not adequate to directlyattribute the contamination to one or more of these sources [2]. Currently, NMED considers theformer Elite Cleaners site as the primary source of groundwater contamination. Other site activitiesand reports include: the 1990 NMED Screening Site Inspection [3], the 1993 Expanded SiteInspection [4], a 1993 Hydrogeologic Investigation [5], a 1996 Groundwater Sampling [6], a 1997Subsurface Investigation [7], and a 1997- 1998 Background Investigation [8] [9]. Moreinformation about the site operating history and investigations can be found in Appendix C.

From 1996 through 1999, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), under a multi-sitecooperative agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted aBackground Investigation of the Fruit Avenue Plume site [10]. The purpose of the investigation wasto determine: 1) the source of soil and groundwater contamination in the area; 2) the lateral andvertical extent of soil and groundwater contamination; and, 3) whether the groundwatercontamination may be affecting existing area water supply wells.

In 1996, NMED collected groundwater samples from 23 existing monitoring wells to assess thegroundwater plume conditions and to develop a plan for the Background Investigation that includeda two-phase field program. The first phase was conducted between September 8, 1997, andNovember 20, 1997. Staff advanced six geoprobe borings (GP-1 through 6), installed 19monitoring wells (SFMW-8 through 26), sampled 49 existing and new monitoring wells, tested theaquifer, and sampled the Coca Cola production well. The second phase was conducted betweenApril 23, 1998, and August 12, 1998. The work for the second phase was designed to fill the datagaps identified when the first phase was completed. Specifically, the second phase included aquifertesting and sampling of the American Linen and Saint Joseph Hospital wells, installing 11 additionalmonitoring wells (27 - 37), and sampling 16 new and existing monitoring wells.

NMED is currently conducting a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of the site. Thepurpose of the RI is to collect data to: 1) characterize site conditions; 2) determine the nature of thewaste; 3) assess environmental and public health risks; and, 4) conduct treatability studies todetermine potential performance and cost of different treatment options to be considered. TheFeasibility Study is the mechanism used to develop, screen, and evaluate alternative remedial (orclean-up) actions for the site. The RI/FS are conducted concurrently, and the findings of one affect the alternative choices that the other will evaluate.


The Public Health Assessment for the Fruit Avenue Plume site, Albuquerque, New Mexico, wasreleased for public comment from October 13, 2000 to November 29, 2000. The public commentperiod was intended to give community members, interested parties, and other federal, state, andlocal agencies an opportunity to review the document and to provide comments to ATSDR related tohealth concerns associated with the site. As of the date of this publication, ATSDR did not receivepublic health concerns for the Fruit Avenue site. Therefore, this document serves as the final releaseversion of the Fruit Avenue Plume site public health assessment.

On July 12, 2000, ATSDR staff conducted a site visit and held an availability session of the FruitAvenue site. The purpose of the meeting was to assess current site conditions, to explain ATSDR'srole in the public health assessment process, and to gather community health concerns. ATSDRcollaborated with NMED to conduct their community interviews that will be a part of theirCommunity Relations Plan. Representatives from AEHD were available to discuss the workperformed at the site. No community health concerns were expressed. People that attended theavailability session wanted information about current conditions and activities planned for the site.

In March, 2000, NMED prepared a Community Relations Plan to identify community concernsrelated to the site, as part of the RI/FS process [11]. NMED staff met with the City of Albuquerque,local landowners, lenders, and one Bernalillo County Commissioner. The EPA and NMED also metwith one Albuquerque City Councilor [17]. They identified community concerns related to liabilityissues because the site is being addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response,Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments andReauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). The City of Albuquerque requested that "comfort letters" beprepared to state that no legal action will be taken against property owners for the contamination atthe site provided the property did not contribute to the contamination. This "comfort letter" will alsobe sent to any requestor(s) as long as the requestor is not identified as a potentially responsible party(PRP) for the site [11].

The Community Relations Plan's objectives are to: 1) identify individuals who live and/or worknear the site to ensure that they have opportunities to be involved in the Superfund process; 2)establish and maintain open communications between all the interested parties throughout theprocess; and, 3) provide information to all interested parties in a timely manner to keep theminformed and give them the opportunity to provide input into the decision-making process.

NMED is the designated primary contact for the community in regards to information about the site.NMED will coordinate activities with EPA Community Relations staff and the City of Albuquerquestaff. ATSDR will be involved in the community relations process with NMED and other federaland state agencies, and will respond to community concerns that pertain to public health issues.

On February 7, 2000, the EPA, NMED, and AEHD held a public meeting to provide information to the community. No community health concerns were expressed at that meeting [12].


The site is identified as a plume of contaminated groundwater. There are 90 monitoring wells and 6former and current production wells located within the Fruit Avenue Plume site boundary. Fifty-nineof the 90 monitoring wells contain TCE, 31 of the wells contain TCE at concentrations that exceedthe MCL [13].

The six production wells include the following: 1) the former Elite Cleaners property; 2) AmericanLinen well; 3) Coca Cola well; 4) Ice Plant well; 5) Rutledge Linen well; and, 6) St. JosephHospital well. Of the six production wells, the American Linen and the St. Joseph Hospital wells arethe only operable wells. The other wells were either plugged or abandoned. The American Linenwell did not show contamination and is used only as a backup well, for non-potable well use. The St.Joseph Hospital well is not used because the TCE contamination detected exceeds federal guidelines(the MCL), and the well is plumbed into the potable water system at the hospital [13]. The formerCoca Cola plant well and the St. Joseph Hospital wells were the only wells with TCE contaminantconcentrations above the MCL [13]. The highest TCE concentration of 90 ppb was detected inmonitoring well SFMW-19 in February 2000 [13]. The potential exposure pathways are discussedbelow:

  1. The former Elite Cleaners property well:
  2. NMED has not collected samples from the former Elite Cleaners production well because itis located below the asphalt parking lot at the Wells Fargo Bank. NMED plans to excavatethe well in the fall 2000 [13]. The well is not used and does not pose a health hazard.

  3. American Linen well:
  4. In 1997, NMED collected samples from the American Linen (Exclesior) wells and did notfind contaminants at concentrations of concern [10]. Therefore, if American Linen were touse their backup well in rare instances, no exposures to contaminants of concern wouldoccur. However, we encourage American Linen to continue using the municipal watersupply well because the groundwater plume has not been fully characterized andgroundwater contaminant concentrations seem to be increasing with depth and expanding insize. (Figure 2, Appendix A, presents existing well locations).

  5. Coca Cola well:
  6. Exposures to the TCE contamination identified at the Coca Cola Bottling Company well arenot occurring because the well was abandoned in 1989. Exposures to the contaminantconcentrations detected as part of the routine monitoring in April and July of 1989 wouldnot have resulted in adverse health effects. The combination of the contaminantconcentrations and the length of exposure (from April to July 1989) would not result inadverse health effects. Sampling data collected in 1997 identified TCE at concentrations thatexceed the federal standards; however, the company has not used the well since 1989. In1997, the company relocated its operations and the building was demolished in the fall of 1999.

  7. Ice Plant well:
  8. Water samples collected from this well in 1993 showed TCE contamination atconcentrations below the maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb. However, the well has beenabandoned and plugged. Therefore, this is not considered a potential exposure pathway.

  9. Rutledge Linen well:
  10. Water samples collected from this well in 1987 showed TCE contamination below the MCLof 5 ppb. However, the well was abandoned and plugged and does not represent a potential exposure pathway.

  11. St. Joseph Hospital well:
  12. Data collected in 1998, from the Saint Joseph Hospital identified TCE at a maximumcontaminant concentration of 10 ppb at depths of 266 feet and 290 feet below land surface[10]. The well was reportedly shut off in 1997 because of TCE contamination. However, thewell can still be used as a backup well. NMED informed the hospital of the TCEcontamination and the hospital is not anticipating using the well unless there is anemergency. Hospital officials are planning to re-plumb the system so that the well will nolonger be connected to the potable supply. They hope to reuse the well for non-potable usesonce the system has been re-plumbed [12] [16].

    NMED requested that ATSDR staff review groundwater data from the Saint Joseph Hospitalwell to determine whether health effects could have resulted from exposures to theconcentrations of TCE identified in the sampling data. NMED sent ATSDR staff samplingdata from the Saint Joseph Hospital well collected from December 3, 1986 to May 4, 2000.TCE contamination was first detected in the hospital supply well in December 1986;however, the concentrations detected were below regulatory limits and remained belowregulatory limits (less than 5 ppb) until the well was abandoned in 1997.

    For the purposes of this discussion, ATSDR staff estimates the maximum time the well wascontaminated to be 10 years (from 1986 to 1996) because no TCE was detected in the wellprior to 1986 and the well was abandoned in 1997. We further evaluated potential healtheffects to adults, to children, and to sensitive populations as follows:

    1) Adults:

    Scientific studies have evaluated health effects associated with drinking TCE contaminatedwater. Laboratory animals were exposed to TCE contamination via air, drinking water andfood. Data analysis indicate that TCE affects the nervous system and liver in adults andanimals, and to a lesser extent the kidney and heart [15]. TCE concentrations needed tocause these health effects in laboratory animals were documented at levels of 10,000 timeshigher than the possible exposures that may have occurred to people who drankcontaminated water from the Hospital well (greater than 10 mg/kg/day as opposed to amaximum concentration of 0.0002 mg/kg/day [15].

    Epidemiologic studies are conducted to evaluate possible human health impact resultingfrom exposures to contaminants. Epidemiologic studies indicate that adverse health effects toadults occur at levels much higher than those detected at the Saint Joseph Hospital well.

    To evaluate the possible cancer risk associated with exposures that may have occurred toadults that used the hospital well, ATSDR calculated the theoretical cancer risk using EPA'scancer slope factors or cancer unit risk factors. These calculations are based on theassumption that there is no safe level of exposure to a chemical that may cause cancer. However, these calculated risks overestimate the risk associated with the exposures thatoccurred (the theoretical calculations predict that more cancer will occur than what wouldactually occur). This is because the theoretical cancer risk calculations assume that theexposures occurred continuously (e.g., a person spent all of their life breathing basementair), that our bodies cannot repair themselves and fight off cancer, and that humans react tothese chemicals in the same way as the test animals. Various scientific studies show thatexposure to these chemicals at levels similar to those that occurred at this well do notnecessarily result in cancer. These calculations are only used as a guide and must be used incombination with the evaluation of the mechanism of toxicity of the chemical(s) and thestrength and weight of evidence of the laboratory and epidemiologic studies. The cancer riskcalculations indicate that people drinking water from the Saint Joseph Hospital well would not be at any additional risk of developing cancer.

    2) Children And Other Populations That Are Unusually Susceptible

    Children, particularly the fetus, are susceptible to the toxic effects of chemicals if thechemicals cross the placental barrier. Before birth, the fetus is forming the body organs thatneed to last a lifetime. This is the time when chemical injury may lead to the greatest effects.Laboratory animal and epidemiological studies indicate that TCE exposures to the fetus mayresult in adverse health effects. However, the amount of TCE given to pregnant laboratoryanimals was higher than that experienced by people residing above the groundwatercontaminant plume (1 mg/kg/day vs. 0.0002 mg/kg/day). This indicates that the TCEexposures that occurred to people using the Saint Joseph Hospital well were not at levels thatwould likely affect children (including the fetus).

    Since very high level exposures (much higher than those that occurred in the Saint JosephHospital well - over 10,000 times higher) to TCE are known to cause liver, kidney, andheart damage, people with clinical or subclinical liver and kidney disease may be moresensitive to the effects of TCE. In addition, people who abuse alcohol or who are treated withdisulfiram may be at greater risk of TCE adverse health effects because both inhibit the body from eliminating the TCE and can cause TCE to accumulate in the bloodstream.

Additional Discussion:

The Presbyterian Hospital well is located outside of the current site boundaries; however, "NMEDbelieves the contamination in this well is from the Fruit Avenue Plume." [13]. Sampling dataidentified TCE at concentrations of 1 to 2 ppb. While this concentration does not exceed the MCL of5 ppb, the well is plumbed to be used for potable water uses. NMED has recommended that the wellnot be used for potable back-up well use unless a sampling program is initiated to track the TCEcontaminant concentrations [13]. Hospital officials are following NMED's recommendation.

Background Investigation Report:

The Background Investigation report represents the most recent investigation NMED conducted forthe site. The Background Investigation was designed to determine: 1) sources of groundwatercontamination in the area; 2) the extent of lateral and vertical groundwater contamination; and, 3)whether groundwater contamination could be affecting existing area supply wells.

    1) Contaminant sources of groundwater contamination:

    Available data linked groundwater contamination with the underground storage tanks that were removed from the former Elite Cleaners site in 1989. No other source areas were identified that could have significantly contributed to groundwater contamination. Soil and groundwater data support the conclusion that the former Elite Cleaners property is one of the sources of chlorinated solvent contamination at the Fruit Avenue Plume. The supply well located at the property was completed to a depth of 125 feet and may have served as a conduit for the shallow groundwater contamination to reach the intermediate aquifer. At the time of this report, it is unknown whether this well is abandoned or could still be acting as a conduit for contaminants to migrate into the deeper aquifers [10]. NMED has plans to excavate the well in the fall of 2000 [13].

    The source of TCE contamination in the deeper aquifer seems to be the former Elite Cleaners site. The former Coca Cola Bottling Company well seems to have pulled the contamination eastward and deeper into the aquifer [10]. According to NMED, the Coca Cola well was plugged in 1999 and no longer serves as a conduit for contaminants to migrate further into the deeper aquifer [13].

    2) Lateral and Vertical Extent of Contamination:

    Groundwater chlorinated solvent contamination is relatively low in the shallow aquifer. The highest concentrations of contaminants are currently found in the intermediate aquifer and extend at least to 535 feet into the deeper aquifer at limited locations. Contamination in the shallow aquifer appears to be centered at the former Elite Cleaners (Figure 3, Appendix A).

    Contaminants in the intermediate aquifer migrated further than in the shallow aquifer and appear to be centered below the former Elite Cleaners site (Figure 4, Appendix A). The extent of contaminant migration to the east has not been determined but it appears that the majority of the contamination in this aquifer does not extend past First Street to the east.

    In the deeper aquifer, contamination was detected downgradient (to the east) of the shallower plumes, beginning at the Coca Cola Bottling Company well (Figure 5, Appendix A). The eastern extent of groundwater contamination in the deep aquifer is unknown. However, data collected as part of the Background Investigation identified TCE contamination associated with the Fruit Avenue Plume as far east as the Saint Joseph Hospital well [10].

    3) Water Supply Wells Affected by Contamination:

    Groundwater contaminants impacted water supply wells in Albuquerque. However, municipal water supply wells have not been impacted. The Background Investigation identified TCE contamination in the following supply wells: the Coca Cola supply well, one of the Ice Plant wells, the Rutledge Linen supply well, the Saint Joseph Hospital well, and the Presbyterian Hospital supply well (Figure 2, Appendix A). Some of these wells have been plugged and abandoned and some are still used as backup wells. Please see Table 1, Appendix B, for more detailed information about the wells.

    The Background Investigation report found that contamination from the Fruit Avenue Plume had extended as far as the Saint Joseph Hospital well, and may be associated with contaminants detected in the supply well at the Presbyterian Hospital. No contaminants of concern were identified in the municipal water supply wells to the east and downgradient of the Fruit Avenue Plume [10].


Children are at greater risk of health effects from exposures to hazardous substances than adultsbecause: 1) children play outside more often than adults (increasing the likelihood of contact withchemicals in the environment); 2) children are shorter than adults and more likely to be exposed tosoil, dust, and heavy vapors close to the ground; 3) children are smaller than adults and theirexposures would result in higher doses of chemicals per body weight; and 4) children's developingbody systems can sustain damage if toxic exposures occur during certain growth stages. Therefore,ATSDR evaluated how children might be affected by the types and quantities of contaminantsdetected in groundwater in the Fruit Avenue Plume area. Available data indicate there are no knownroutes of potential exposures to children. Data analysis from the Saint Joseph Hospital well indicatethat children would not have experienced health effects from exposures to the TCE concentrationsdetected in the Saint Joseph Hospital well.


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry classifies the Fruit Avenue Plume site as ano apparent public health hazard. This classification is based on the fact that municipal water supplywells have not been impacted. The supply wells in the downtown area have been impacted; however,most of the wells have been plugged and abandoned, and the ones remaining are not used for potableuses.

Sampling data from the American Linen (Exclesior) supply well identified trace levels of TCE. Theconcentrations of TCE do not exceed federal guidelines and exposures would not result in adversehealth effects. While this well is still used as a backup well, it would not be a potable water sourcefor this company (it would only be used to clean clothes) [13].

Two production wells that show TCE contamination have the potential of being used for potablewater: the Presbyterian Hospital well and the Saint Joseph Hospital supply well. The PresbyterianHospital well data identified TCE at concentrations of 1 to 2 ppb. While this concentration does notexceed federal standards, NMED recommended that the well not be used for potable water unless asampling program is initiated to track the TCE concentrations. The Saint Joseph Hospital supplywell samples identified TCE at concentrations above the MCL. Hospital officials discontinued use ofthe well in 1997 because of the TCE contamination. Currently, the well is not capped; however,hospital officials have abandoned the use of the well due to TCE contamination. Hospital officialsare planning to re-plumb the system for non-potable use [16]. Water in the Albuquerque area is at apremium because the water table decreases on a yearly basis, and hospital officials want the optionof having the well if needed [12].

ATSDR evaluated available groundwater data from the Saint Joseph Hospital well. Samples werecollected from December, 1986 to the May, 2000. Data analysis indicate that no adverse healtheffects would have resulted from exposures to the concentrations of TCE detected in the Saint Joseph Hospital well.


  • Continue monitoring and sampling the municipal water supply wells to ensure thatcontaminants are not present in these wells at concentrations that could result in adverse health effects.

  • Encourage American Linen to continue using the municipal water supply well because the groundwater plume has not been fully characterized and groundwater contaminantconcentrations seem to be increasing with depth and expanding in size.

  • NMED continue to require the St. Joseph Hospital officials not to use the backup well until the groundwater is remediated.

  • Continue to encourage the Presbyterian Hospital officials not to use the well for potable back-up use unless NMED implements a sampling program to track TCE contaminantconcentrations.

  • Re-evaluate data as it becomes available.


Lovyst Luker
Environmental Health Scientist
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Section B

Sven Rodenbeck
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Section Chief, Section A

ATSDR Regional Representative:

Patrick Young
Regional Representative
Region VI
Office of Regional Operations


  1. New Mexico Environment Department. Preliminary Assessment. Albuquerque IndustrialCenter, Northwest. December 7, 1989.

  2. Superfund NPL Assessment Program (SNAP) Database. Fruit Avenue Plume. Albuquerque,New Mexico. Federal Register Notice: October 22, 1999.

  3. New Mexico Environment Department, New Mexico Environmental Improvement Division.Screening Site Inspection. Elite Cleaners, Albuquerque, New Mexico. October 15, 1990.

  4. New Mexico Environment Department. Expanded Site Inspection. Elite Cleaners,Albuquerque, New Mexico. September 21, 1994.

  5. Dames and Moore. Phase Two Investigation Report. Albuquerque Industrial Center site,Albuquerque, New Mexico. January 24, 1994.

  6. New Mexico Environment Department. Groundwater Sampling Summary Report for theDecember 1996 Sampling Event. Fruit Avenue Plume, Albuquerque, New Mexico. April27, 1997.

  7. Dames and Moore. Phase Two Subsurface Investigation. Western Bank Facility, 505Marquette NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. June 2, 1997.

  8. New Mexico Environment Department. Work plan to Conduct Background Investigation.Fruit Avenue Plume, Albuquerque, New Mexico. September 7, 1997.

  9. New Mexico Environment Department. Addendum to Work Plan to Conduct BackgroundInvestigation. Fruit Avenue Plume, Albuquerque, New Mexico. June 1, 1998.

  10. New Mexico Environment Department, Groundwater Quality Bureau, Superfund OversightSection. Background Investigation Report. Fruit Avenue Plume, Albuquerque, New Mexico.February 10, 1999.

  11. Duke Engineering and Services. Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) WorkPlan Fruit Avenue Plume Superfund Site. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Volume 3 -Community Relations Plan. March 2000.

  12. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Record of Telephone Conversation with NMED, June 14, 2000.

  13. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Comments to Public Health Assessment, New Mexico Environment Department, July 20, 2000.

  14. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.

  15. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile forTricholoroethylene. February 20, 1996.

  16. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Written comments from the New Mexico Environment Department, September 12, 2000.

  17. City of Albuquerque comments to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. August 31, 2000.


Site Location
Figure 1. Site Location

Site Base Map and Site Locations
Figure 2. Site Base Map and Site Locations

Shallow Zone TCE Concentration Plume Map
Figure 3. Shallow Zone TCE Concentration Plume Map

Intermediate Zone TCE Concentration Plume Map
Figure 4. Intermediate Zone TCE Concentration Plume Map

Deep Zone TCE Concentrations
Figure 5. Deep Zone TCE Concentrations

Demographic Statistics
Figure 6. Demographic Statistics


Table 1. Well Data for Industrial/Production Well Data for the Fruit Avenue Plume Site


From the 1930s through the early 1970s, the Albuquerque Industrial Center (AIC) was used forlight to medium industrial and residential purposes. At that time, the currently named 4th Street wasa main north-south highway known as the Pan American Freeway. Several service stations and othersupport facilities operated along the Freeway [5]. The Elite Cleaners facility was located at 514Third Street NW at what is now a parking lot. The facility operated from the early 1940s through1972 when the city of Albuquerque purchased and demolished the property as part of the UrbanRenewal Program. In 1973, the Urban Development Agency sold the property to Sierra Vista [5].The property is currently leased by Wells Fargo Bank from MC&C Investments, Ltd. and is used asa parking lot. The bank was also formerly known as the United New Mexico bank and prior to that,the Norwest Bank. MC&C Investments, Ltd. purchased the property from Sierra Vista [13].

The dry cleaners reportedly used a stoddard solvent cleaning process composed of non-chlorinatedhydrocarbons that is also identified as mineral spirits. Property owners reported that the facilitymaintained two underground storage units and another company operated a gas pump and tank [5].

In April 1989, as part of the routine compliance sampling, the City of Albuquerque EnvironmentalHealth Department (AEHD) detected tricholoroethene (TCE) at a Coca-Cola Bottling Companyproduction well. Data analysis identified TCE at a concentration of 14. 5 parts per billion (ppb), thatexceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) concentration of 5 ppb [10]. AEHD conductedadditional sampling in July 1989 and data analysis identified TCE at a concentration 13.1 ppb. The1989 sampling of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company (CCB) production well identifiedtricholoroethene (TCE) at concentrations that exceeded the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) of5 parts per billion (ppb) [10]. Sampling conducted prior to1989 did not identify contaminants ingroundwater. CCB reported they did not use TCE in their operation.

As a result of the sampling data and following AEHD recommendations, the Coca-Cola BottlingCompany discontinued use of the well in July 1989 and switched to municipal water [11]. BecauseCCB was not identified as a contaminant source, the city of Albuquerque and NMED beganinvestigating potential contaminant sources [1]. In December 1989, NMED initiated a PreliminaryAssessment of the area surrounding the Coca-Cola Bottling Company well in an attempt to identifythe contaminant source. Five potential sources of the groundwater contamination were identified.Subsequent investigations were conducted from 1990 through 1998 to identify the source of thecontamination and assess groundwater conditions. The investigations included collection andanalysis of subsurface soil samples, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, and collection andanalysis of groundwater samples [2]. TCE and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) were detected in a numberof groundwater samples. Though potential sources of contamination were identified, the former EliteCleaners site was later identified to be the only attributable contaminant source [10]. Other siteactivities and reports include: the 1990 NMED Screening Site Inspection [3], the 1993 ExpandedSite Inspection [4], a 1993 Hydrogeologic Investigation [5], a 1996 Groundwater Sampling [6], a1997 Subsurface Investigation [7], and a 1997- 1998 Background Investigation [8] [9].

From 1989 through 1993, NMED conducted further investigations that confirmed a chlorinatedsolvent groundwater plume in the aquifer used to supply drinking water for the City of Albuquerque[6]. Initial investigations focused on the former Elite Cleaners site; however, subsequentinvestigations showed that the contamination was more widespread.

In November 1989, the Elite Cleaners site became the focus of the source investigation becausesampling analysis identified chlorinated solvents, including TCE and PCE in subsurface soils duringthe removal of two underground storage tanks at the site. TCE and PCE concentrations were foundto decrease with depth. Other contaminants identified were non-chlorinated aliphatic and aromatichydrocarbons characteristic of stoddard solvents (mineral spirits), and diesel fuel. In 1989, the EliteCleaners site was named Albuquerque Industrial Center (AIC).

In 1990, NMED submitted a Screening Site Inspection (SSI) report of the Elite Cleaners site to theEPA. As part of the SSI, four monitoring wells were installed in the shallow aquifer on the formerElite Cleaners property. Monitoring wells 2, 3, and 4 showed maximum concentrations of TCE at6.60, 11.10, and 6.9 ppb, respectively [3]. The SSI was designed to investigate whethercontaminants found in subsurface sediment samples at Elite Cleaners may have impactedgroundwater, to determine the extent, if any, of contamination, and to determine if Elite Cleanerscould be the source of the contaminants found in the Coca-Cola production well [3]. On April 25,1990, NMED and AEHD conducted a soil-gas survey to determine if areas away from thepreviously excavated pit contain hazardous substances. Sampling points were analyzed in anassumed downgradient direction from the waste pit (to the east). Organic odors were detected duringthe drilling of monitoring well #2 (MW-2); therefore, sediment samples were collected from theborings to measure organic vapor concentrations. Samples from MW-2 were collected from depthsof 7 to 8 feet and 28 to 30 feet and identified the presence of organic vapors at concentrations of 5.4ppm and 30 ppm, respectively.

NMED collected soil and sediment samples while installing the monitoring wells. Two samples werecollected from each boring and analyzed for volatile organic compounds. No volatile organiccompounds were detected. TCE and PCE were identified at concentrations that did not exceedfederal guidelines and concentrations were found to decrease with depth from 2 feet to 12 feet andappear to be localized around the underground storage tanks and/or waste pits [3].

In 1993, NMED conducted an Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) and installed two source area soilborings and three monitoring wells (SFMW- 5, 6, and 7) in the former Elite Cleaners site. Dataanalysis indicated that the disposal area and underground storage tanks associated with the EliteCleaners contributed to chlorinated solvents contamination to the subsurface sediments andgroundwater beneath the site [4].

Also in 1993, the Northwest Bank hired Dames and Moore to conduct a Phase II HydrogeologicInvestigation of the south portion of the parking lot they leased (that was constructed above theformer Elite Cleaners property). The Investigation consisted of historical data review, sampling ofexisting wells, installation of seven soil borings, and completion of 17 monitoring wells (DM-1 to 13(D2). Monitoring wells were installed into shallow, intermediate and deep portions of the aquifer todetermine whether chlorinated or non-chlorinated hydrocarbon contamination existed and tocharacterize the potential impact to groundwater [5]. Groundwater samples were collected andanalyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from 39 monitoring wells at the AlbuquerqueIndustrial Center (AIC) site. Data analysis indicated that chlorinated solvent contaminationappeared to be restricted to the upper 80 feet of depth. The highest concentrations of TCE and 1,2-dichloroethane were found in monitoring well DM-12 (I), located upgradient and west of the EliteCleaners site. Based on these findings, the report concluded that the primary source of chlorinatedsolvent contamination in groundwater at the AIC site appeared to be from the west-southwest andupgradient of the Elite Cleaners site.

Soil boring analytical results identified the presence of stoddard solvent (mineral spirits), diesel andoil range hydrocarbons, and low levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE), TCE, and 1,2 -dichloroethane(1,2-DCE) in the vicinity of the former underground storage tanks. PCE, TCE, and 1,2-DCE weredetected in soils at concentrations of 440 ppb, 30 ppb, and 40 ppb, respectively [5].

As part of their investigation, Dames & Moore identified 131 facilities in the AIC site as potentialusers of chlorinated solvents. The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether chlorinatedand/or non-chlorinated hydrocarbon contamination existed at the Elite Cleaners site and tocharacterize potential impacts to groundwater at the AIC site. Previous investigators thought that alarge chlorinated solvent release may have occurred at the site because of the concentrations of non-chlorinated petroleum hydrocarbons detected in soil around the EC site. However, data analysisconducted in this investigation did not support that conclusion. The report also stated that the natureof groundwater flow at the EC site and the site geology provide supporting evidence that impacts togroundwater have been minimal in the area [5].

In 1996, the site name was changed to the Fruit Avenue Plume because the Dames & Moore 1993investigation showed there was possible upgradient contamination that indicated there may be othercontaminant sources besides the Elite Cleaners site [10]. NMED measured water levels in 43monitoring wells and collected groundwater samples from 23 monitoring wells to determinegroundwater flow and plume configuration in the area [6]. The investigation found thatgroundwater flow in the shallow aquifer is generally to the east - southeast, and in the intermediateaquifer, to the east - northeast. In 1997, NMED released a Groundwater Sampling Summary Reportfor the Fruit Avenue Plume site that concluded that the plume appears to be stabilized and does notshow signs of significant vertical or lateral movement since the 1993 sampling investigation.Trichloroethene was detected in 17 of the 23 monitoring wells sampled; six of these samplesexceeded the MCL. The highest concentration TCE was detected in DM-13 (I) at 58 ppb. Of the sixwells that exceeded the MCL, monitoring well DM-1 (S) was completed in the shallow aquifer andthe other five wells were completed in the intermediate aquifer.

Other contaminants were identified at concentrations that did not exceed the comparison values. 1)Tetrachloroethene (PCE) was detected in shallow aquifer monitoring wells DM-1 (S), 4(S), 13(S),and SFMW-3, on the former Elite Cleaners site. 2) Cis-1,2 dichloroethene and trans-1,2-dichloroethene were detected in 19 of the 23 wells; 17 of the well locations were the same as thosethat detected TCE. These compounds are often associated with TCE as degradation products.

Groundwater samples from six locations (DM-6(I), DM-11(S), DM-12(I), DM-13(S), (I), and D1)were analyzed for semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and total/dissolved metals. In 1997,bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate was detected in sample DM-1 (dissolved) at 10 ppb, that concentrationexceeds the MCL of 6 ppb for this compound. However, there are some quality assurance/qualitycontrol issues related to this sample: 1) the sampling data indicate that the sample was dissolved; 2)in addition, the compound is associated with plastics such as polyvinylchloride (PVC) used as wellcompletion material and may also be a laboratory contaminant. Therefore, it is not considered to bea groundwater contaminant at the site. No other semi-volatile organic compounds were detected [6].Total metal analysis identified aluminum, iron, and manganese at concentrations that exceed theMCL. Dissolved metal analysis reduced the concentration of aluminum and iron to below detectionlimits; manganese still exceeded the MCL. Through discussions with AEHD, NMED learned thatmanganese commonly occurs in both the total and dissolved phase throughout the Albuquerquesouth valley and downtown area, particularly near the river. Manganese is indicative of a reducingor anaerobic environment commonly found where organic material is degrading or where septictanks released nitrates [6].

In 1997, the Western Bank hired Dames & Moore to conduct a Phase II Investigation to evaluatepotential VOC impact to groundwater at their facility. From May 13 - 15, 1997, contractorsinstalled two monitoring well clusters in the parking lot to determine if groundwater was impacted.The well clusters were completed as shallow and intermediate monitoring wells. During theadvancement of the intermediate wells, sediment samples were collected and analyzed; no readingsmeasured above background levels. The wells were purged and sampled on May 19, 1997.Laboratory results did not identify contaminants of concern in these wells. Based on the datacollected, Dames & Moore concluded that the site is not a source of VOC impact to groundwater[7].

In 1998, the EPA provided funds for NMED to conduct further investigations of the area to: 1)evaluate potential contaminant sources; 2) delineate the lateral and vertical extent of groundwatercontamination; and, 3) determine whether groundwater contamination may be affecting existing areawater supply wells [8]. To accomplish the objectives, NMED proposed to advance six Geoprobeborings and, according to the results of the investigation, install up to 19 additional groundwatermonitoring wells. On February 10, 1999, NMED released the Background Investigation Report thatrepresents the latest data available for the area [8].

NMED collected continuous soil cores from the upper 12 feet and a grab sample from 32-34 feetbelow the surface for each Geoprobe boring. NMED also collected water samples from each boring;one from just below the water table (approximately 45 feet bls) and the second from as deep as theGeoprobe could be advanced. The deepest sample was obtained from 61 feet bls in GP-3. Analyticalresults did not identify any detectable levels of VOCs [10]. While water analysis did not identifydetectable concentrations of VOCs, the data may have been biased due to the sample collectionprocedure; therefore, NMED did not resample using the Geoprobe technique because subsequentmonitoring well installation and sampling provided reliable data.

The Background investigation concluded that, based on the available data, only the undergroundstorage tanks located in the former Elite Cleaners site could be linked to the groundwatercontamination observed at the Fruit Avenue Plume site. The underground tanks were removed in1989 and the site data indicates that there are no other source areas that could significantly contribute to groundwater contamination in this area.


A water bearing layer of permeable rock, sand, or gravel beneath the earth's surface.
In this report, the aquifers are defined as follows:
  1. shallow aquifer: wells were typically completed across the water table at about 40 feet below ground surface.

  2. intermediate aquifer: wells were typically completed between 60 to 120 feet deep. The zone was subdivided into:
    a) I1 categories approximately 60 to 85 feet deep.
    b) I2 categories approximately 86 to 120 feet deep.

  3. deep aquifer: wells were typically completed below 120 feet deep. The zone was further subdivided into the following zones:
    a) D1 - generally 120 to 150 feet deep.
    b) D2 - generally ranges from 150 to 250 feet deep.
    c) D3 - generally ranges from 250 to 350 feet deep.
    d) D4 - generally ranges from 350 feet and deeper.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR is a federal health agency in Atlanta, Georgia that deals with hazardous substance and waste site issues. ATSDR gives people information about harmful chemicals in their environment and tells people how to protect themselves from coming into contact with chemicals.

A group of diseases which occur when cells in the body become abnormal and grow, or multiply, out of control

See Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA):CERCLA was put into place in 1980. It is also known as Superfund. This act concerns releases of hazardous substances into the environment, and the cleanup of these substances and hazardous waste sites. ATSDR was created by this act and is responsible for looking into the health issues related to hazardous waste sites.

Chlorinated Solvents:
Chemicals containing chlorine compounds that are commonly used as degreasing agents in industries, such as dry cleaners and those that use heavy oils on machinery.

Community Relations Plan (CRP):
A document developed from information that is gathered from community members and from EPA guidelines that outline the actions that lead agencies will take on a Superfund site to maintain communications with the community. NMED is the lead agency for the Fruit Avenue site. The CRP assists the public to understand the Superfund processes, to ensure the public has input into the decision making processes that may affect the community, and to ensure that the lead agency is aware and responsive to community concerns.

A belief or worry that chemicals in the environment might cause harm to people.

How much or the amount of a substance present in a certain amount of soil, water, air, or food.

See Environmental Contaminant.

Environmental Contaminant:
A substance (chemical) that gets into a system (person, animal, or the environment) in amounts higher than that found in Background Level, or what would be expected.

Coming into contact with a chemical substance by swallowing, breathing, or skin/eye contact. May be short term (acute) or long term (chronic).

Exposure Pathway:
A description of the way that a chemical moves from its source (where it began) to where and how people can come into contact with (or get exposed to) the chemical.

ATSDR defines an exposure pathway as having 5 parts:
Source of Contamination,
Environmental Media and Transport Mechanism,
Point of Exposure,
Route of Exposure, and
Receptor Population.

When all 5 parts of an exposure pathway are present, it is called a Completed Exposure Pathway. Each of these 5 terms is defined in this Glossary.

Hazardous Waste:
Substances that have been released or thrown away into the environment and, under certain conditions, could be harmful to people who come into contact with them.

Health Effect:
A change in body function or the structures of cells that can lead to disease or health problems.

The progressive movement of physical matter from one location to another.

The National Priorities List. (Which is part of Superfund.) A list kept by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the most serious, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. An NPL site needs to be cleaned up or is being looked at to see if people can be exposed to chemicals from the site.

No Public Health Hazard:
The category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites where there is evidence of an absence of exposure to site-related chemicals.

Public Health Assessment. A report or document that looks at chemicals at a hazardous waste site and tells if people could be harmed from coming into contact with those chemicals. The PHA also tells if possible further public health actions are needed.

A confidential database with names, addresses, and phone numbers of individuals diagnosed with long term illnesses (i.e. cancer registries). The database is used by public health organizations to assess and track occurrences of illness.

An action or means of exhibiting correction (i.e. environmental clean-up).

Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS):
Two studies that are often performed at the same time. These studies are intended to gather information to determine the extent of contamination at a Superfund site, to establish criteria for site remedy, and to identify and screen alternative methods for site clean-up.

Superfund Site:
See NPL.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
The federal agency that develops and enforces environmental laws to protect the environment and the public's health.

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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