Cochise County sets ups hotline for residents impacted by raw sewage spill

Cochise County sets ups hotline for residents impacted by raw sewage spill
Sewage from Mexico flowing into neighborhoods in Naco. (Source: Tucson News Now)

SOUTHERN ARIZONA - Cochise County Health & Social Services has set up a bi-lingual telephone hotline to provide Naco residents with public health information related to the ongoing HAZMAT situation.

Following a leak of raw sewage from Naco, Mexico, onto U.S. soil on Sept. 9, hazardous materials have continued to flow across the international border, currently at a rate of 200,000 to 250,000 gallons daily.

The County’s top priority is to protect the health and welfare of residents living in areas immediately surrounding the flow, and to address any health concerns.

On Friday the County hosted a town hall meeting where staff provided an update and directly answered residents’ questions. The toll-free Naco HAZMAT hotline - (833) 670-5786 – is available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will provide information on the risks associated with exposure to raw sewage, and the precautions people can take to avoid contamination of their families and pets.

“We are providing this public service to the residents of Naco to help address any health concerns they may have relating to this HAZMAT issue,” said Carrie Langley, Director of Cochise Health & Social Services.

Residents are also reminded the County is offering an immunization clinic to local adults on Friday, September 28, at the Naco Fire District, 2019 W. Martinez St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“This free clinic is being offered to Naco, AZ, adult residents as a precautionary measure,” added Langley. “We are also continuing to advise people to avoid the spill areas and any pools of standing water.”

County Environmental Health staff continue to monitor and treat the flow, and representatives from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Department of Health Services were due to be on site on September 26 to test drinking water, groundwater and soil.

Both Arizona Water Company and Southwest Utility Company, which provide water to Bisbee and Naco, have been testing the drinking water and have assured residents it is safe to drink.

The County is also working with the University of Arizona to conduct more comprehensive testing of the soil and water, to provide a detailed assessment on the long-term impact to public health.

During a Special Meeting last week, the Board of Supervisors declared a state of local emergency to highlight the issue and attract attention and assistance from state and federal agencies. The County is continuing to work with Governor Doug Ducey’s office, as well as state, federal and Mexican officials, to find a long-term solution to this situation.

The public can also get information HERE.