Note: As usual, not a peep from the nature nazis
Crime is danger in remote areas, ADEQ director says
Border-trash battle called tough, risky
Sara Smith Cronkite News Service |
Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012 12:02 am | Comments
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Large piles of discarded debris are left by illegal immigrants in
areas that are increasingly remote - making them harder to get to for
PHOENIX - With many of those crossing the border illegally shifting
to remote areas in response to stepped-up enforcement, the trash they
leave behind is becoming tougher - and riskier - to clean up, a state
agency director told lawmakers Thursday.
"These are dangerous areas," Henry Darwin of the Arizona Department
of Environmental Quality told the Senate Border Security, Federalism
and States Sovereignty Committee. "These are known areas of illegal
immigration, illegal drug trafficking."
He called trash along the border "a fairly significant issue" that
has persisted even as illegal border crossings have declined slightly.
Showing pictures of trash-strewn landscapes, Darwin said that illegal
immigrants leave behind an estimated 2,000 tons of clothing,
backpacks, plastic bottles, soiled diapers, abandoned vehicles and
more each year.
The worst sites are where illegal immigrants or drug smugglers wait
or camp, he said, adding that rain often washes the debris into
With those sites increasingly in remote areas, getting cleanup crews
and equipment to them is more difficult, Darwin said.
"It's causing a real challenge for us to get the material out of the
desert," he said.
The ADEQ organizes its own cleanups and partners with organizations,
local agencies and the Tohono O'odham Nation, Darwin said, adding
that his agency has created a website, www.azbordertrash.gov, to
share information on those efforts. The Environmental Protection
Agency and the Bureau of Land Management contribute most of the money
for the ADEQ's border efforts, he added.
While the ADEQ publicizes the general areas of its border-cleanup
events, it won't announce exactly where out of concern for the safety
of those who may try to help on their own, he said.
Darwin said Pima County - the Tohono O'odham Nation in particular -
has been hardest-hit.
Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, noted that one of the sites featured
in Darwin's presentation is a half mile from her Southeastern Arizona
"In many of these lay-up sites that I've been out to, you can
actually smell them before you get to them," she said.
Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, suggested using inmate labor to address the
"It's equal to the all-volunteer effort, but in a sense it's better
because we can do it day in and day out," Melvin said.
Darwin said the ADEQ is working with the state Department of
Corrections and the Governor's Office to arrange inmate help.
ADEQ border cleanup event
• When: 9 a.m., Jan. 28
• Cleanup area: Santa Cruz River in Rio Rico.
• What to bring: Hat and work shoes.
• More information: www.azdeq.gov (Click on the newsroom button)
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/border-trash-battle-