5/22 US-Mexico Border Health: Nuevo Laredo School Children Hospitalized by Toxic
- Compiled by: kihuac@...FNS News serviceToxic Fumes Send Children to Hospital; Community Chemical Hazards RevealedMay 30, 2005Nuevo Laredo NewsA suspected plume of toxic gas sent more than 20 children from the Josefa Ortiz
de Dominguez Elementary School to the hospital late last week. Responding to an
emergency call, members of the Mexican army, fire department, civil protection
department, and Red Cross arrived at the school where they found children 7 to
10 years of age suffering from sharp headaches, nausea and fainting spells. The
rescue personnel evacuated about 200 children, transporting some of them to the
hospital where they were treated and released. Specialists from the Sony
Corporation and Natural Gas company also intervened in the emergency. The
incident occurred in an outlying neighborhood, or colonia, of Nuevo Laredo
lacking in hospitals or clinics which could have offered immediate assistance.
Investigators initially traced the source of the suspected toxic cloud to the
home of 76-year-old Leonardo Reyes Martinez, who was also hospitalized.
According to officials, Reyes noticed a fire smoldering from discarded material
he had earlier put in his yard and attempted to douse it with water, which
instead, ignited the material and provoked the spreading of the suspected toxic
cloud. Samples of the suspect material were sent to a lab in Monterrey, Nuevo
Leon, to determine its identity.
Meanwhile, an official with Nuevo Laredo’s civil protection department
commented on other, possible risks faced by residents from the storage of
hazardous substances. Alvaro Fernandez Palomares, assistant director of civil
protection, said an inspection of industrial parks by his department revealed
that about 10 percent of warehouses used by transport and customs firms had
chemicals and other hazardous materials.
“We inspected about 300 warehouses of transport and customs companies and found
that some of them contain chemicals,” said Fernandez. “We gave them 24 hours to
retire those chemical products and transfer them immediately to Mina, though
the waste products which come from imported materials have to be returned to
their places of origin.” Fernandez added that his department also discovered a
lack of security and fire extinguishers at some of the places inspected. The
presence of hazardous materials at industrial sites was cited as a concern
because of their proximity to densely populated residential zones.
Sources: El Manana, May 29, 2005. Article by Jaime Orozco Tey. Primera Hora,
May 29, 2005. Article by Gaston Monge. Ultima Hora, May 29, 2005. Article by
Nora Morales Morales. El Universal, May 29, 2005. Article by Gaston Monge.Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico==================================================================
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