Group: Dangerous chemical found near Mesquite Park

Posted at: 06/26/2013 11:03 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com

The Citizen Bucket Brigade believes the dumping of railroad ties released a dangerous chemical into the air.
The Citizen Bucket Brigade believes the dumping of railroad ties released a dangerous chemical into the air.
Photo: Courtesy: Citizen Bucket Brigade

MESQUITE, N.M. -- The Citizen Bucket Brigade of the Breathe In New Mexico Campaign claims to have found high levels of naphthalene, a chemical believed to cause cancer and other serious health problems, in a Mesquite air sample.

In a news release, the group said the sample was collected off of Highway 478, directly across from Mesquite Park. The sample was analyzed by an environmental scientist in Oregon, who found the naphthalene level to be more than 30 times the level associated with a risk of cancer, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The Citizen Bucket Brigade believes the presence of the chemical is a result of the recent dumping of railroad ties along Highway 478, where the air sample was collected.

"People have been complaining about the smell from the railroad for weeks and it just keeps getting worse," said Arturo Uribe, director of the Mesquite Community Action Committee. "There is a large industry present in the community here, which is why we started taking air samples, and these results are the worst yet. The people here are smelling these chemicals in their own homes."

In the scientist's analysis, the presence of naphthalene could put exposed Mesquite residents at risk of cancer, respiratory illnesses and nasal effects.

The New Mexico Environmental Department told KOB Eyewitness News 4 that they are looking into the study's claim now.