The U.S. federal government is working with Texas state officials, Mexican environmental agencies and Mexican officials to address landfill fires like the one in Matamoros on Tuesday.
Jan. 29BROWNSVILLE The U.S. federal government is working with Texas state officials, Mexican environmental agencies and Mexican officials to address landfill fires like the one in Matamoros on Tuesday.
"We recognize we need to do things on two sides of the border that impact each other and sometimes we need to work together on those solutions, " said Bill Luthans, the deputy director of the multimedia planning and permitting division in the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 6 office, in a telephone interview Friday. Region 6 includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Luthans spoke on behalf of the EPA's U.S.-Mexico Border 2012 Program, a 10-year cooperative aimed at solving public health and environment issues along the 3,100-mile border, according to the Web site.
Smoke and the stench of burned tires from the burning dump reached as far north as Edinburg.
The Hidalgo County Health Department issued a smoke advisory Wednesday, warning the young, elderly and those with respiratory conditions to stay inside and run their air conditioners.
Trash diggers started the dump fire hunting for aluminum and copper to resell in Monterrey, said Jorge Leal Tobias, Matamoros' environment director, in a previous Monitor article.
Clean air and solid waste management in the US and Mexico are two issues addressed by the Border 2012 program, Luthans said.
"We recognize many communities don't have the capacity to manage solid waste," he said. We work with them on developing local capacity to manage the waste and that's with well-operated landfills." The EPA and U.S. State Department can offer technical assistance to create a landfill feasibility study. A combination of loans and grants could fund the landfill construction.
The EPA is also working with government officials in Matamoros and Brownsville to promote a used tire market, Lanthers said.
But public landfill burning, fostered by a lack of police who can patrol the dumps, will not be stopped easily, said Josue Ramirez, the Brownsville health director.
"People make a living picking things out of landfills and selling it," he said. "It's really true what they say, 'One man's junk is another man's treasure.'"
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Â© 2005, The Monitor, McAllen, Texas. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.