Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Puebla, Mexico: State government successfully creates race of super human midgets. UPDATE 1

In the previous post I detailed the health problems at the Valsequillo reservoir, the largest in Mexico. I took you from October of last year when Reforma first blew the lid off this decades-long travesty through the Puebla state government's initial reaction to the Reforma reports. In reality, at least in the mind of a politician, the government's reaction seems reasonable. "We've got a problem that has existed for a long, long time and we are putting together a plan to address it."

That didn't last long.

First, I'll return to the timeline established by the reports from Reforma. As you'll recall the initial report in Reforma was published on October 29, 2006 and detailed the 8 years of work done by University of Puebla (UAP) researcher Professor Antonio Valdez García. Prof. García had dutifully catalogued, for 8 years, the cases of birth defects, mutations, learning disabilities and a host of diseases brought on by people's water wells being poisoned by the reservoir's water.

On November 16, Reforma published an interview with Ricardo Meneses, 87, who at one time made a living fishing on the reservoir. According to Reforma, Meneses still lived "with the illusion of returning to fish in Valsequillo." Reforma quoted Meneses and used this quote as the title to their 11/16 report:
"Esa agua apesta y ya no sirve"
"That water reeks and is useless."
Meneses went on to reminisce of days long gone by:
What a time! It had carp and bluegill. The fish were enormous, a half a meter (20") and 6 to 7 kilos (12-14 lbs.).

They came from the markets in Puebla, San Martin Texmelucan and even from Mexico City because the fish here were delicious. But now, pure sh*t and water lilies. That water reeks and is useless.
Reforma's reporter said that within 200 meters of the dam itself he could see at least 5 restaurants and 2 hotels but very few customers. And none of the restaurants served any fish.

Before, the families lived by fishing and many had bake ovens in their houses. But that all ended. Tourism ended also and although there are still restaurants, nobody visits them anymore.
"But with the promised reservoir cleanup project by the state, Meneses dreams of fishing Valsequillo once again." Dream on.

On Novemebr 17, Reforma reported that the state had discovered a privately owned waste water treatment plant that has been in disuse since the factory in which it is located was closed in 2004. Only one catch. It is owned by Kamel Nacif (El Rey de la Mezclilla -- The King of Blue Jeans, of Lydia Cacho and "Mi gober precioso" fame. In any event, state officials say that if they could bring that treatment plant online, it has the capacity to treat all the industrial, commercial and residential sewage from three of the largest industrial parks in the city as well as the neighborhoods that surround them. With all the problems that the accused pedophile Nacif has as well as those of his enabler, Puebla governor Mario Marín, the plant may prove to be just a bit too pricey.

In any event, this was also the first time that Reforma reported that Puebla state officials were beginning to try to downplay the water contamination problems. One Joel Gutiérrez, head of -- take a deep breath -- La Unidad de Apoyo Ejecutivo de la Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (The Executive Support Unit for the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources) proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no idea what he's talking about. He pooh-poohed the idea that an environmental crisis existed and rejected the eight years worth of reports about heavy metal content in the reservoir as well as its consequences on the people living nearby.
"The Valsequillo reservoir receives about 300 million cubic meters of wate annually and the waste water that arrives at the lake is no more than 70 or 80 million cubic meters.

This indicates that the greater quantity of water that supplies the reservoir is rainwater . . . It is not pure sewage but a mixture of rainwater and residual water." (emphasis mine)

Furthermore, he said that the waste treatment plants in Puebla improved the quality of liquid in Valsequillo.
Well, I'm sure that treating the water doesn't make it any worse. What this moron doesn't seem to understand is that if only 20-30% of the water entering the reservoir is poison, the entire watershed is poisoned.

We continue.

On March 14 of this year, Reforma reported that the state was claiming that it had earmarked 70 million pesos for the "rescue" of Valsequillo. Manuel Beristáin, delegate (whatever that is) for the Comisión Nacional del Agua admitted that the total cost to clean up the lake would be 3 billion, 800 million pesos, or about 350 million dollars. If you think about that number versus the situation -- a huge reservoir contaminated by lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, fecal coliform and amoebae run amok, poisoned water wells supplying drinking water to 5000 inhabitants, 10% of whom (25% of the children) exibit birth defects, mutations, brain damage and learning disabilities -- 350 million dollars is a spit in the ocean, or in the reservoir, or wherever you'd care to spit.

There was a very curious statement made by delegate Beristáin with regards to the apportionment of the initial 70 million pesos. He said,
Of the 22 municipalities adjacent to Valsequillo, only those which present viable projects for the treatment of their sewage and residual water will be allowed to share the 70 million pesos.

They will construct sewage treatment plants and sewage collection networks to stop dumping their sewage into the Atoyac River and then on to Valsequillo.
What about the municipalities that do not present a "viable project" as well as those that present an "unviable project"? Is the state going to move in with bulldozers and pinch off their sewage pipes to the river? Caterpillar can hear the shysters drawing up the lawsuits now.

Much more to come. This will whet your appetite. The state is beginning to vociferously deny high heavy metal content and is blaming the birth defects and mutations on -- wait for this -- incest. And governor Mario Marín weighed in this morning with his newly acquired tecnical expertise, ala Al Gore, to claim that none of the health problems detailed by university professor García are caused by lead. "Lead only causes leukemia," quoth the Gober Precioso.

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