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Cochise County declares state of emergency over sewage leak

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 17:47:32-04

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

The state of emergency follows a leak of raw sewage from Mexico onto U.S soil on Sunday, Sept. 9, in which the county declared a public health emergency.

While that initial flow was stopped and then contained, a second leak started when the HAZMAT was diverted to another pipe and failed.

The HAZMAT continues 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 is monitoring the situation and continues to treat the HAZMAT with chlorine tablets.

Cochise County said drinking water remains safe, but the public should avoid the area and any standing pools of water.

Although sewage leaks across the border have happened before, the current situation represents a 328% increase on previous incidents.

Cochise County said they are working with state, federal and Mexican agencies in an attempt to create a long-term solution to the issue. 

Cochise County said they will hold a community town hall on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Naco Elementary School Cafeteria. The county is also planning to offer an immunization clinic to any area residents with health concerns.

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 Mexico.

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.