Dan Cohen AUTHOR Albuquerque officials are hopeful that the Air Force’s latest effort to address an underground fuel leak at Kirtland Air Force Base that could be as large as 24 million gallons will protect the city’s drinking water supply.In June, workers turned on the first of a series of wells that will pump the fuel and contaminated water out of the ground. The Air Force plans to build two more wells this fall and, depending on how the cleanup progresses, workers could construct up to five wells next year, reported Air Force Times.“There was a period of time during which we were very concerned about the apparent lack of progress and lack of clarity with respect to cleanup plans,” said David Morris, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. “So we’ve been very encouraged by recent developments, which seem to point to a renewed commitment on the part of the Air Force to address this problem,” Morris said.Adria Bodour, the Air Force’s program manager and technical lead for the cleanup, said the service’s objective is simple: “Our No. 1 goal is to protect the city of Albuquerque’s drinking water.”The Air Force has spent more the $92 million since 2008 on the cleanup, including more than $10 million on a new bulk fuels facility at Kirtland. The leak, initially discovered in 1999, stems from an underground fuel transport pipe that carried fuel from delivery vehicles to storage areas. The spill goes back to at least 1975, but it could have started in the 1950s, according to the story.