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Nogales Mayor Concerned About Safety Of Border X-Ray Security Equipment

The mayor of Nogales wants the Department of Homeland Security to verify the safety of new x-ray equipment used to screen vehicles and trains at a border crossing in his city. The mayor outlined his concerns at the Nogales City Council meeting Wednesday.

Mayor Arturo Garino said he’s worried people who cross the border at the Port of Entry in his city might be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. He's afraid people are getting sick because of the gamma rays and x-rays U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents use to scan vehicles and trains looking for smugglers.

“We’ve had a history of Lupus and a history of Leukemia in Nogales, but radiation is radiation, and how safe it is for humans, I don’t know,” Garino said.

He isn’t sure why people in Nogales are getting sick, but Garino said Lupus and Leukemia cases are increasing in his city. He said previous studies of water, air and soil in Nogales have not found unhealthy radiation levels. Now Garino is asking the Department of Homeland Security to find out if it’s so-called Z-Portal scanning system is leaking dangerous materials.

“Let’s just hope that there’s nothing there, but if we have concerned citizens then we have to do something to address the issue,” Garino said.

But, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Teresa Small said the Z-Portal radiation levels are safe.

"Really, the amount that is emitted is extremely low," Small said. "As a matter of fact, getting a regular chest x-ray is a lot more than would be emitting from this equipment."

She said there have been no reports of radiation sickness among border patrol agents since the equipment was installed at the Nogales port of entry in June. 





KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Steve Shadley is no stranger to the issues shaping Arizona.