Mexico is attacking our border patrol agents ... with millions of gallons of trash and toxic chemicals they dump with little containment into the Tijuana River.
Fox News reports that the waste has reached critical levels, threatening the very health of America's border patrol agents, many of whom face lung damage and a host of other ills due to the toxic chemicals. Meanwhile our United States government has done little to nothing to force Mexico into developing some ecological manners.
"Some 59 Border Patrol agents have reported getting sick in the last three months after exposure to pollutants while at work along the border," reports Fox News. "One agent suffered severe chemical burns on his feet after toxic chemicals burned through his boots, according to documentation provided by the U.S. Border Patrol Local 1613 Union."
Local 1613 Union has now threatened legal action to declare the area unfit for work, thus forcing all 300 agents at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station to "abandon their posts along the vast border between San Diego and Mexico."
Though Mexico dumps the trash, the U.S. dumps responsibility, and union leaders are furious, specifically at Congress and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), for not taking action. The IBWC oversees sanitation, water quality, and flood control in the border region.
“It is going to get to the point where they cannot patrol down there. That is a national security issue,” said Christopher Harris, secretary for the U.S. Border Patrol Local 1613 Union which represents almost 2,000 U.S. Border Patrol Bargaining Unit Employees in the San Diego Sector.
“If a judge rules that our agents cannot work in that area, we are going to cede this back to no man’s land,” Harris warned.
This would put large swaths of the southern border unmonitored, creating a playground for drug cartels to terrorize locals and import illegal substances.
Some agents have halted duties altogether due to the heavy physical toll it has taken on their bodies.
“I like doing what I do, but now it has come to a point that every night I have headaches and every day I have headaches and nasal pain and I had to stop,” said Joel Sevilla, a U.S. Army veteran who has been a Border Patrol Agent for nine years.
Other agents described suffering the effects of gas inhalation, chemical burns, lung damage and infections.
Not only does this affect our border patrol agents, but also local beachfront communities. According to Serge Dedina, mayor of the City of Imperial Beach, "30 and 40 million gallons of sewage are discharged daily onto the beach from Mexico’s Punta Banderas sewage treatment plant six miles south of the border, and during south swells and south winds, the sewage washes up on U.S. beaches."
The City of Imperial Beach is also threatening to sue the IBWC for the Clean Water Act violations.
“We can no longer tolerate our own government allowing this to happen,” said Dedina. “We want to make sure our residents and the Border Patrol agents … and United States Navy SEALs who live and train in our city and just North of Coronado are not harmed by this mess."
Dedina said the Department of Homeland Security should include new protections in the $200 million Congress just allocated for San Diego border wall upgrades.
Fox News profiled more of the history of how we got into this mess:
The trouble with Mexico’s broken sewage system came to the forefront in February, when 250 million gallons of raw sewage poured from Mexico into the Tijuana River and then into the ocean for 17 days after the City of Tijuana’s sanitation system broke down.
No Mexican official disclosed the hazard, but the 200,000 people living in South San Diego, Imperial Beach and Chula Vista could smell the eye-watering, throat-burning smell of raw sewage from a mile away. The spill was the worst in the region in a decade, and resulted in several miles of beaches being closed for six weeks. Initially, the Mexican government pledged to fix the problem, but that changed.
“We were told on August 4 by highest level American officials that the Mexican federal government has abandoned its effort to support this issue,” Dedina said. “The U.S. government has to step up and help us stop this toxic waste and toxic sewage from coming across the border.”
“I don’t think Mexico is doing this on purpose, but do I think they care — not a bit. The U.S. government has to start doing some things to make Mexico care about its actions,” said Harris. “The U.S. cannot solve this all alone, but we can mitigate the environmental hazards, and that is going to take the EPA and the International Boundary and Water Commission to get off the dime and start doing what they are supposed to.”
The IBWC claims that they have taken a number of actions and will be investing $17 million into upgrading its $239.4 million sewage treatment plant built in the 1990s.
"It is clear that when you look at the activities of the commission, not just since the February spill, but prior to that, there has been a long term interest and significant financial investment in improving the TJ River Valley,” said IBWC spokesperson Sally Spener.
Dedina says that's not good enough and they must act quicker with resolute force.
“Somewhere along the way, the U.S. government has apparently decided that nothing needs to be done. That is unacceptable,” Dedina said. “This is not rocket science. … It requires funding, engineering and political will.”