The timeframe “crisis on the border” normally refers to immigration components or remedy being smuggled into the country. But it has one extra meaning, as we found after we travelled to the border in early February: tens of hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage that spill yearly into the Tijuana River on the Mexican Facet and drift across the border precise into Southern California, polluting the land, air, and sea.Mexico and the united states every thinks the diversified facet must serene be doing extra to neat it up, with out a efficient resolution found on both facet of the border for a few years.
The point the bag Tijuana River crosses into the U.S.
This is the bag the Tijuana River crosses the border into the united states. This cement structure used to be constructed to hang flooding from rainfall. But this is now not at all times if truth be told comely rain water, it be a toxic mixture of raw sewage from neighboring Tijuana, draining into Southern California on decrease floor, at final emptying into the pacific ocean. Amber Craig: So, it effectively– it be savor a lavatory flushing straight into this river valley. Border Patrol agent Amber Craig took us on a tour of the sewage infiltration, exhibiting us that what doesn’t flush out to sea, washes up on land. Mountains of plastic bottles, furnishings and tires. Amber Craig: And right here’s a snarl for us, too, now not comely on story of it be debris and raze, however since the mosquitoes must nest in it, so… It be a health snarl, an eyesore, and it be hindering the Border Patrol’s predominant mission. She took us to stare President Trump’s newly erected wall along the border: comely this six-mile stretch designate an estimated $50 million.
Correspondent Lesley Stahl with Border Patrol agent Amber Craig interior a chain basin on the border
What we found is that below the wall, there might be a community of basins and tunnels constructed 30 years within the past to get hang of a stare at to take hang of the sewage from Tijuana. The red dot is me, next to agent Amber Craig, interior a fashion of concrete sewage sequence basins. It be linked on both terminate to tunnels from Mexico to California that had been constructed precise below the wall.Lesley Stahl: So that you bring to mind the smugglers and the migrants constructing tunnels to head below the wall. However the U.S. govt constructed this tunnel that goes below the wall.Amber Craig: Yes, we constructed this in reveal that the water would drift freely into the united states.It has to float freely on story of four a protracted time within the past the U.S. signed an settlement with Mexico now not to trigger backup flooding at this situation of the border. These metallic grates at the ends of the tunnel let the water in whereas retaining the rubbish out. It normally works glossy for the length of dry weather, however now not when it storms.Amber Craig: The amount of water that comes via right here comes via savor a torrent. It’s miles terribly, very dreadful. It’s miles a raging river when it rains.Lesley Stahl: With the tires and the barrels and all the things–Amber Craig: Plump of debris and garbage. That’s comely. It be very dreadful.
Border Patrol agent Amber Craig
The debris and garbage can hurtle down right here with such drive that Border Patrol agents decide to delivery the grates to prevent the system from clogging. Which technique trash flows into California unobstructed. It be additionally an opening for migrants.Lesley Stahl: The cause of the wall is being totally defeated by this duty of yours to blueprint shut the grates.Amber Craig: You– effectively, yup. It does fabricate it a tiny extra demanding to come to a decision to like that delivery. Pointless to issue, we fabricate now not desire to like it delivery.Lesley Stahl: If they war via that tunnel, they’re within the united states.Amber Craig: If the grates decide to be opened, then we like now got to like a personnel, an agent, on the diversified facet, retaining–Lesley Stahl: In declare they arrive out.Amber Craig: That’s comely.Lesley Stahl: How enact the smugglers know that the grates are lifted?Amber Craig: They ogle. Lesley Stahl: They ogle?Amber Craig: Certain. There’re smugglers searching at us maybe precise now.Migrants are routinely caught risking their lives crossing within the sewage: some must serene be rescued and decontaminated.
The grates that must serene be opened to prevent the system from clogging
Lesley Stahl: Let me read you a list that we found of stuff that is in this water: fecal coliforms, drug-resistant bacteria, benzene, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium scientific raze, and DDT, which has been banned for years within the united states.Amber Craig: Yes, ma’am. Lesley Stahl: I hear that every so veritably the water turns comic colors?Amber Craig: It does. We like had shimmering, shimmering crimson, a shimmering red, neon inexperienced, darkish dim.Lesley Stahl: So the migrants are going into this?Amber Craig: Yes, ma’am.Lesley Stahl: And the patrol agents are going into this. Are they getting in glum health?Amber Craig: Agents like reported diversified health injuries. Rashes are very total. Belly components. We like had one agent who had a flesh-eating bacteria. And he nearly misplaced his arm.Lesley Stahl: How wrathful are you and the diversified agents?Amber Craig: We’re pissed off, very pissed off. Agents know our job is dreadful. We like signed up for a job the bag we might be shot at, the bag we would die in a vehicle accident. And we settle for that. No person belief that they had been gonna arrive right here and be uncovered to this, to the sewage, and the chemicals and the scent.Congress comely allocated $300 million to take care of the sewage arena all along the border, a fraction of what is wanted. Especially right here, due to the at the moment rising inhabitants of Tijuana. Amber Craig: It’s miles a advanced disaster. We’re having to take care of one other country. And the Metropolis of Tijuana, it be comely an gargantuan metropolis, it be overpopulated. Their infrastructure is now not at all times if truth be told– is now not at all times if truth be told ready to take care of this fashion of drift. So it comely comes precise over the border.
Workers at one of Tijuana’s medication pumps
The native Mexican sewage authority invited us to at least one of many principle medication pumps in Tijuana. It on the total breaks down due to mechanical failures. So workers decide to wade underground in dim sludge to repair the buckling facility. Whereas we had been there, one employee bought so overwhelmed by toxic fumes he required scientific attention.
A employee named Abel clears a drain
Per the Mexican authority, the final line of protection retaining the sewage out of the U.S. right here is a exiguous crew of sanitation workers who unclog drains by hand along the border. We found one of them, a man named Abel, clearing trash with a rake.
Sequence pools for the Tijuana River
About a of the wastewater that does get hang of aloof is pumped into these massive pools six miles south of the border, the bag the sewage is supposed to be treated and discharged via this massive pipe as neat water into the ocean. However the energy hasn’t labored for years, so what you’re taking a stare at is untreated sewage emptying straight away into the Pacific.
Untreated sewage emptying straight away into the Pacific
We stood by the torrent with Fay Crevoshay, an environmentalist with Wild Cruise, a watchdog neighborhood of enthusiastic residents from all sides of the border.Lesley Stahl: How powerful sewage are we talking about?Fay Crevoshay: Yeah. The native authorities disclose that it be 25 million gallons a day. We predict it be 40 million gallons.Lesley Stahl: And it be comely gushing, gushing, gushing out.Fay Crevoshay: That is what we like now got right here.
Making issues worse, whole shantytowns like popped up in Tijuana’s canyons along the border. Quite a couple of these makeshift shacks had been thrown-up by other folks who moved right here for jobs, at factories created by the North American Free Commerce Settlement.Lesley Stahl: These factories are dumping their chemicals?Fay Crevoshay: Certain. We like got regulations, however there isn’t this kind of thing as a–Lesley Stahl: Enforcement–Fay Crevoshay: –administration. So why use money? The disaster is these factories arrive right here on story of it be low-designate. They’re gonna pay the staff $8 a day. And right here’s the pinnacle outcome. This is the bag the staff live. These houses fabricate now not like any products and companies, no electrical energy–Lesley Stahl: No plumbing.Fay Crevoshay: –no plumbing, nothing.Lesley Stahl: This circulation, this whole circulation, is comely raw sewage.Fay Crevoshay: Sewage.Lesley Stahl: When it rains, what occurs to this circulation?Fay Crevoshay: It grows. They’ve an whole river! You peek the whole lying garbage, all over it?Lesley Stahl: Yeah. That–Fay Crevoshay: It takes it with!
A shantytown shut to the Tijuana River
We saw tires in all locations, so a lot of them from California that had been provided to Mexican vehicle-home owners 2d-hand. When the tires put on out, many are former to prop up houses on the hillside or comely get hang of dumped and then get hang of swept by the sewage precise succor to Southern California. We wondered the bag the whole untreated sewage that emptied into the ocean goes. Smartly, we realized that it will float precise by a U.S. militia practicing movement. Onerous to specialise in however the Navy SEALs are practicing precise within the path of the sludge.Lesley Stahl: Let me inquire the SEALs, how so a lot of you– like gone swimming in that?ALL: All of us.
Retired SEALs Alex Lopez, Kyle Buckett, Bill Lyman, and Steve Viola and Retired naval officer Label West
Retired naval officer Label West and four retired SEALs – Alex Lopez, Kyle Buckett, Bill Lyman, and Steve Viola – educated us how the sewage impacts these practicing right here.Steve Viola: It wreaks havoc to your system. Belly aches, throwing up, I mean, coming out both ends—fever. And likewise you comely decide to suck it up and preserve going.Kyle Buckett: We like had classes of, you realize, 38 to 42 guys contract it for the length of their practicing cycle. And it be a extremely, it be a gargantuan difficulty for us to take care of that.Alex Lopez: I gotten smaller cellulitis. Which is–Lesley Stahl: What’s that?Alex Lopez: –a bacterial, savor, staph an infection. It comely took off, and it started eating, you realize, flesh on both my legs. They disclose that basically the most susceptible are SEAL BUD/S, these attempting out to be SEALs, especially for the length of “Hell Week” –five and a half days immersed within the ocean, finding out their endurance.Lesley Stahl: Pick up you heard that for the length of Hell Week the BUD/S now get hang of prophylactic antibiotics?Steve Viola: Yes, I like heard that.Lesley Stahl: You had been a coach. Attain you ever disclose, “These youngsters can now not crawl in this this present day. I will scent it, I will peek it.”Kyle Buckett: Yeah, completely. Yeah, we like now got.Lesley Stahl: You enact– you enact.Kyle Buckett: We like got, we like now got. After which we like now got to transition to the bay or to a pool. Bill Lyman: There might be now not any waves within the bay and there might be now not any waves within the pool.Lesley Stahl: Are you seeing any motive for us to difficulty about your readiness?Label West: I have confidence, I have confidence that our readiness is being impacted. And likewise you realize–Lesley Stahl: It’s miles being im–Label West: Yeah, it’s a ways.
The SEALs disclose the Navy, mindful regarding the sewage arena, is monitoring the water fine. So we found it weird and wonderful that it’s a ways spending one billion greenbacks to manufacture higher the SEALs’ practicing movement powerful closer to the source of the pollution. Steve Viola: Smartly we had outgrown the skill of the constructions that we had. So as that’s the reason we moved down there.Lesley Stahl: But had been they taking the pollution into story?Bill Lyman: NoLesley Stahl: The Navy did enact an environmental affect query. GROUP: Yes.Kyle Buckett: The Navy’s predominant focal point used to be to stare how powerful we had been gonna affect the atmosphere. It wasn’t centered on what the atmosphere used to be gonna affect on the Navy SEAL community.
The Navy grew to develop into down our inquire of for an interview, however these days educated Congress in a file that the toddle-off is a snarl, yet its affect has been “infrequent and short timeframe,” concluding that it’s a ways effectively mitigated. Serge Dedina, mayor of Imperial Coastline, the metropolis on the south-fringe of the unique movement, doesn’t take hang of it. Serge Dedina: They’ve uncared for the health and safety of their very personal nationwide safety group, and that’s the reason completely unacceptable.Lesley Stahl: Did you ever get hang of any health complications from the water?Serge Dedina: Yeah. I like a tube in my ear ‘trigger I had so many ear infections. My youngsters like gotten in glum health. Our lifeguards like gotten in glum health. Resplendent powerful every person of our councilmembers like gotten in glum health. So it be– it be devastated our metropolis. In extra ways than one. Imperial Coastline is a surfing metropolis, however its seashores are closed a third of the year or extra due to the toxic sludge. Serge Dedina: I’ve bought to use my time hammering other folks in energy to manufacture certain that they keep in mind the truth that dumping toxic raze on Navy SEALs and Border Patrol agents is a glum idea, and getting them to acknowledge that it be if truth be told occurring.Lesley Stahl: If the Navy weighed in enact you’re thinking that things would delivery as a lot as happen?Serge Dedina: I have confidence if the Navy brass weighed in, this might be mounted the following day. Within the interim, the Niagara of sewage keeps gushing, the grates preserve opening, and Abel keeps at it with his rake.Produced by Shachar Bar-On and Natalie Jimenez Peel. Broadcast companion, Maria Rutan. Edited by Matthew Lev.
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