PBS Premiere: Oct. 10, 2006Check the broadcast schedule »

Film Update


The project to clean up the Metales y Derivados toxic site is a four-phase project to be completed by June 2009. The working group overseeing the project includes the Colectivo Chilpancingo Pro Justicia Ambiental, Environmental Health Coalition, and officials of the Mexican government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The projects four phases are:

  • Phase One (remove surface contaminants). To date, $750,000 was spent to remove 1,976 tons of toxics. Between 5,000 and 30,000 tons remain above and below ground.
  • Phase Two (sampling, analysis). Fifty soil samples taken in September 2005 show concentrations of lead as high as 200,000 mg/kg. 800 mg/kg is the EPA industrial cleanup level.
  • Phase Three (final cleanup plan selection, design). In process.
  • Phase Four (final cleanup). Pending.

Several community concerns

  • High levels of toxics remain at the site, which is unsecured despite fencing and signage. Twenty-four-hour security has not been provided. Reports of people passing through or living at the site are frequent.
  • A fire at the site on February 8, 2006, released black toxic smoke. Calls for medical attention and air quality assessment went unanswered.
  • Facing pressure to settle for capping contaminants at the site, the community continues to call for the removal of all waste. Complete removal is consistent with precaution, would achieve real justice for the community, and complies with the 1983 U.S.-Mexico La Paz Agreement requiring that hazardous waste from maquiladoras be returned to the country of origin.
  • Metales y Derivados is exhibit A for the failure of NAFTA to protect public health and the environment. The NAFTA petition process documented the case, but lacks authority to compel cleanup. As the NAFTA model of trade is promoted around the world, the community calls for fair trade agreements with enforceable environmental mechanisms.