Investigation Underway After Hazardous Material Release In Santa Teresa Sickens 200

Oct 30, 2012

Santa Teresa Industrial Park
Credit Facebook (KOAT)

Doña Ana County Industrial Park was reopened for business and the Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa reopened to air traffic and personnel. Hazmat testing at the scene yielded no results. An investigation by the Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency Services Department and the New Mexico State Police remains underway to determine what made people ill at the industrial park Tuesday.

In Santa Teresa on Tuesday morning, approximately 200 people were in triage for symptoms of difficulty breathing, light-headedness, nausea and dizziness. No serious injuries have been reported.  The one-mile evacuation area around the Doña Ana County Industrial Park near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry has been lifted, and the temporary shelter at Santa Teresa High School has been deactivated.

The New Mexico State Police has requested a civil-support team from the New Mexico National Guard to deploy to the Doña Ana County Industrial Park at Santa Teresa to assist with monitoring and testing.

Incident commanders and Santa Teresa High School management have completed an assessment of the day’s operations. Parents and relatives of Santa Teresa High School students have expressed concern about the high school’s involvement and the student body’s safety. Classes continued without interruption through the day, and the students were in no danger, either from the irritant in the industrial park or from the evacuees who were sent to the school during the time it was used as a temporary shelter.  Officials say the safety of the school’s staff and students as the incident unfolded was never compromised.

The Las Cruces Fire Department has deployed the following resources to the Hazmat scene: four Hazardous Materials Technicians; one vehicle operator for Haz Mat-4; one Battalion Chief; LCFD Hazardous Materials Unit (Haz Mat-4); and the LCFD Hazardous Materials Mass Decontamination Unit.

The incident command staff has confirmed that the investigation initially centered at the FoamEx plant on the industrial park campus. The investigation is currently moving beyond that plant to other areas in the park nearby.

NOTE: The Incident Commander has clarified at this time that the evacuation area was one mile in radius, rather than two as has been previously stated. Also, no private residences were in the evacuation zone.

The Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority activated a reverse 911 call to alert residents and businesses within two miles of the incident to remain indoors, seal all doors and windows and turn off air conditioning and heating systems that bring outside air into the home or business.