Open Sewer Treaty

Tom Lehman TLehman at
Tue Aug 22 20:00:47 PDT 2000





SAN DIEGO, CA--The deplorable health conditions along the Mexican-U. S. border are some of the lasting and most disgraceful legacies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Ralph Nader charged here today.

"When NAFTA was being pushed through the Congress, the Clinton-Gore Administration promised that the cheap-labor pollution-producing maquiladoras dotting the Mexican border communities would be cleaned up," Nader said. "It hasn't happened and today these factories and the makeshift housing they have spawned continue to exist as a major human tragedy and

peril to public health."

Nader said Vice President Gore lobbied heavily for NAFTA and "shares the responsibility for the false promises that helped sell the treaty to the

Congress, the media and the American people."

Nader said Vice President Gore should come to these border communities and explain to the people why the Administration has "failed so miserably to

insist that its promises be funded and kept to end the health hazards."

Nader, the Green Party candidate for President, said the 10-mile section bordering Tijuana and San Diego is one of the most heavily populated, industrialized and polluted areas along the border.

Nader said smoke stacks and effluent pipes emit heavy metals, acids, and solvents into neighboring communities, damaging the environment and generating diseases. He said the problem is compounded by the lack of adequate infrastructure in the region including sewage treatment systems, roads, fire and other emergency services.

Nader cited the case of a battery recycling plant-Metales y Derivados-which had failed to properly dispose of hazardous wastes including 6,600 tons of lead-containing residue and other toxic compounds at the site near the working class neighborhood of Colonia Chilpancingo. Residents of the nearby area report health problems including skin rashes and birth defects which they attribute to chemicals leaking off the site. The hazardous waste affects not only the communities in the immediate area, but drains into nearby waterways like the Tijuana River which empties into estuaries and

beaches in the southeastern corner of San Diego County.

Nader said the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) , created under a NAFTA side agreement, had finally agreed to conduct an "investigation" of Mexico's enforcement lapses at the plant after 18 months of delay. He noted, however, that the CEC has no enforcement powers which he said was another example of the toothless nature of health and environmental protections under NAFTA.

Nader said a high priority should be placed, at the very least, on amending NAFTA to provide adequate and enforceable health and safety provisions-"provisions that are more than the empty phrases that the Clinton-Gore Administration used to paper over the hazards to public health in order to gain public and Congressional support."


************************************************* Laura Jones Deputy Press Secretary Nader 2000 p: 202-265-4000 * fax: 202-265-0183 *

Paid for by Nader 2000 General Committee, Inc.

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