Informing Citizens: U.S.-Mexico Binational Center Outreach in Nogales, Arizona

On June 20, 2007 members of  the U.S.-Mexico Binational Center team, Dr. A. Jay Gandolfi, Dr. Eduardo Sáez, and Ms. Denise Moreno participated in a community meeting hosted by the Nogales International newspaper concerning trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) contaminated wells maintained by the Valle Verde Water Company.  The meeting was held in Nogales, Arizona with a total of 70 attendees ranging from neighborhood residents to local government officials.

The Valle Verde Water Company has been sanctioned with a Notice of Violation (NOV) by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) due to, “failing to conduct mandatory water quality monitoring, installing portions of the drinking water system without the required permits, serving drinking water to customers in excess of standards, and failing to notify customers of the pollutant levels in excess of drinking water standards.”  The NOV is a compliance tool used when significant violations of the environmental law have occurred.

In April 2007, the Binational Center was contacted by Nogales International to obtain information on remediation scenarios and requested that the Binational team attend a City of Nogales Council meeting where the violations were made public.  At the meeting, the Binational Center offered its outreach materials, as well as technical advice regarding chlorinated solvents.

In May 2007, residents of the Valle Verde neighborhood contacted the Binational Center to obtain copies of the TCE information sheet (http://binational.pharmacy.arizona.edu/outreach.php), which they then provided to affected households.

At the community meeting, Dr. Gandolfi provided toxicological information, while Dr. Sáez discussed the fate and transport of TCE and PCE. Both investigators discussed the contaminants of concern, provided the stakeholders with appropriate information and answered key questions the citizens had concerning the contamination. After the meeting, residents expressed their appreciation of the investigator’s focus and timely information.

Others involved in the informational meeting included ADEQ, Arizona Department of Health Services, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9. One of the purposes of the Binational Center is to promote outreach and information exchange. To obtain more information regarding the newly established U.S.-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology please visit: http://binational.pharmacy.arizona.edu. The efforts of the Binational Center has garnered significant attention, including several newspaper articles in the Nogales International, please see below.

NI plans June forum on water pollution
...and not a drop to drink
UA binational center offers to aid Nogales in pollution analysis