New County Hotline for Naco HAZMAT information, questions, or concerns:  833-670-5786

 

Immunization Clinic for Adults only September 28th
Naco Fire Station
10am-2pm  and 4pm to 8pm


September 19, 2018


A town hall hosted by Cochise County Health & Social Services will be held in Naco on Friday to answer local residents’ questions about the ongoing HAZMAT situation.

Raw sewage from Naco, Sonora, has been flowing across the border since September 9, and while there is no immediate threat to public health anyone with concerns is encouraged to attend.

The public meeting will be held at the Naco Elementary School, 1911 W. Valenzuela Street, at 6 p.m., and a Spanish interpreter will be available for non-English speaking attendees. The meeting will take place in the cafeteria.

“Our number one priority is public safety and keeping the residents of Naco informed,” said Cochise Health & Services Director Carrie Langley. “During the town hall we will talk about the risks posed by exposure to sewage, and the precautions people can take. We want to be as proactive as possible.”

Information will also be distributed about a mobile immunization clinic, which will be made available on Friday, September 28, at the Naco Fire Station, 2019 W. Martinez St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“The clinic is being offered as a public service,” said Langley, who added the University of Arizona will also be providing informational public health flyers. “We have no reported cases of illnesses related to this HAZMAT situation. However, we continue to ask people to avoid the spill area and any standing water.”

Cochise County is continuing to monitor the HAZMAT flow – currently estimated at between 288,000 and 432,000 gallons per day – and treat it with chlorine.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Health (ADEQ) was due to visit the flow site today to test the sewage and the soil. ADEQ is also considering short-term solutions to clean up the HAZMAT and prevent the flow spreading.

Assistance is also being provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services and Pima County, and the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs is reaching out to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City in an effort to engage with the Mexican government to help resolve the issue.

The County has also continued to engage with the offices of Governor Doug Ducey and Congresswoman Martha McSally to keep them informed and to request assistance.

While the County does not have the authority or resources to resolve this international border issue, it will continue to monitor the situation and respond to any future emergency situations.

Repairs to the sewage pipes in Naco, Sonora, are expected to take place within the next eight weeks.


September 17, 2018

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors has declared a state of local emergency in response to the ongoing HAZMAT situation in Naco.

The move follows a leak of raw sewage from Naco, Sonora, onto U.S. soil on Sunday, September 9, which prompted an immediate response by the County to prevent a public health emergency. While that initial flow near the Naco Point of Entry was stopped and then contained, a second leak occurred in Sonora when the HAZMAT was diverted by Naco, Sonora, authorities to another pipe, which subsequently failed.

That HAZMAT has continued to flow west onto private property in the U.S. at a rate of between 288,000 and 432,000 gallons per day. Cochise Environmental Health has been monitoring the situation and continues to treat the HAZMAT with chlorine tablets.

Local residents are assured their drinking water remains safe, but they are urged to avoid the spill area and any standing pools of water.

At a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors this morning, County staff expressed concerns about the potential impact if the flow of HAZMAT into the U.S. be allowed to continue. The prevention of disease and water contamination is a top priority.

Although flows of sewage across the international border have occurred in the past, the current situation represents a 328% increase on previous incidents, said Cochise County Emergency Services Coordinator Gabe Lavine.

The flow initially traveled about three quarters of a mile west, but the water has since evaporated. The current flow is an estimated 50 to 100 yards across the border and continues to ebb and flow.

The County has continued to engage with state, federal and Mexican agencies in an attempt to compel a long-term solution to the issue – the County does not have the authority or resources to resolve this international border situation – but no progress has been made.

“We have requested assistance from the state to help with tests of the local water and soil,” said Cochise Health & Social Services Director Carrie Langley. “We are continuing to monitor the flow several times throughout the day and we continue to treat it with chlorine.”

In declaring a state of local emergency, the Board is looking to highlight the issue and bring state and federal attention to this ongoing situation.

In the meantime, the County will continue to respond to any future emergency situations arising from the flow of HAZMAT.

The County is planning a town hall meeting in Naco later this week to keep local residents informed of the situation. As an additional measure of public support and assistance the County is also planning to offer an immunization clinic to any area residents with health concerns.

Langley added, “Our number one priority is to safeguard public health and property and we are taking a proactive approach to ensure we meet that goal. The aim of the town hall is to keep residents informed and we will be available to answer any questions.

“The immunizations are a precautionary measure. We have no cases of any illnesses reported, but when you have a situation involving raw sewage it’s always good to be prudent.”

The County’s Office of Emergency Management has also put a response plan in place to deal with another anticipated flow near the Naco Port of Entry when repairs to the sewage pipes take place in Naco, Sonora.

It is not yet known which agency will carry out those repairs, but it is expected to take place within the next eight weeks. The flow will occur when the system is flushed out.

The County has also notified state entities about the current emergency, to include the office of Governor Doug Ducey, Congresswoman Martha McSally, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Department of Emergency Military Affairs, and the International Boundary & Water Commission.


September 11, 2018

The sewage spill in Naco, AZ that began on Sunday 9/9/18 has largely been contained pending further action on the part of municipal authorities in Naco, Sonora, in coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), and the North American Development Bank (NADBANK).

The previous flow of sewage near the Naco Port of Entry has been stopped, and all pooled sewage on the US side of the border in that area has been contained and treated.

The western flow of sewage into the US on the outskirts of Naco has diminished to approx. 300 gals/minute and is being monitored and treated by Cochise County health officials.  The current conditions do not represent an immediate threat to public health, and local roads remain open; however, until all sewage flows are eliminated,

residents are urged to avoid standing pools of water near the border.

The Naco Water Company and Arizona Water Company have increased treatment and testing of local wells and have found no indication of a threat to the water supply.

County health officials have notified the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency Region IX Response Center of the event.

The county’s Emergency Management Incident Action Plan is being updated to reflect the increases in frequency and severity of releases.  The county will ensure a robust response to any substantial sewage flows in the future.

Naco, SON municipal officials continue to work with state officials from Arizona and Sonora, as well as US federal government officials, to finalize plans to repair pipelines and upgrade infrastructure to prevent recurrent flows.


Cochise County media contacts:

Ray Falkenberg
520 432 9414

Amanda Baillie
520 432 9214

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