Tags: Homeland Security | border patrol | sewage spill | sick | mexico

Sewage Spill Making Border Agents Sick

Image: Sewage Spill Making Border Agents Sick
A man is detained by Border Patrol officials after breaching border fencing separating San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, Sept. 26, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

By    |   Monday, 04 December 2017 06:12 PM

Multiple U.S. Border Patrol agents have reported health issues related to a sewage spill on the Mexican side of the border in February, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"They're willing to put up with the normal hazards of law enforcement," Christopher Harris, union representative for National Border Patrol Council's Local 1613, told the Times. "We understand that's part of our job. We get shot at. We accept all that. We do our best to mitigate it. We wear vests. We have trauma kits. But we can't mitigate sewage and chemicals."

Agents have reported everything from headaches to rashes to infections to breathing problems ever since 143 million gallons of sewage was spilled in the Tijuana River Valley where they do their patrols.

Harris documented more than 30 agents in June who had reported illness connected to sewage. The number has grown to 83 since then, and he is pushing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to take action to prevent further problems.

Agents from the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station keep watch over the border on foot, on horseback, on ATVs or in SUVs. They are not able to avoid the sewage that can take a long time to work its way to the ocean.

Border Patrol Agent Joel Sevilla told the Times he suffered "a really bad nasal infection, headaches and trouble breathing" and was prescribed antibiotics. But his symptoms returned after only a few days.

"What was worse were the headaches because I couldn't sleep," Sevilla said.

Sevilla was forced to leave the ATV unit and now works in an SUV.

"I don't get the headaches anymore because I'm not riding around in all that dust," he said. "When the water dries out, it turns into dust and that's what we breathe."

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Michael Scappechio said the agency is working to correct the problem.

"Common reported acute injuries have ranged from upper-respiratory ailments to burns on extremities," he said. "Personnel have also reported damage to boots and gloves while performing their duties."

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Multiple U.S. Border Patrol agents have reported health issues related to a sewage spill on the Mexican side of the border in February, the Los Angeles Times reports.
border patrol, sewage spill, sick, mexico
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2017-12-04
Monday, 04 December 2017 06:12 PM
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