Governor Says CDC Must Answer for Alleged Naled Shipment to Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – La Fortaleza said it will demand answers from federal officials after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed Wednesday that a federal contractor received a shipment of Naled even though the government has not decided whether to use the controversial pesticide to kill mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said that after learning that a shipment of Naled was stored in a hangar at Island Grande airport, he instructed the heads of agencies responsible for overseeing the product to immediately inspect the facilities it is stored in to ensure the necessary security measures were taken.
“I asked La Fortaleza chief of staff to communicate with federal officials in charge of this determination to promptly explain their actions to the people of Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, I will continue evaluating all the necessary mechanisms to protect the population against the Zika virus, especially pregnant women and their unborn children,” the governor said in a statement.
A Telenoticias report quoted Fire Department Chief Ángel Crespo as saying that the containers did not contain Naled but another chemical. He said he would try to find out which pesticide arrived in Puerto Rico Tuesday, because its entrance violated federal regulations.
Their remarks were made after television news reporter Sylvia Gómez posted photos on Twitter of the shipment Wednesday afternoon. Private security guards kept watch on the containers with the chemical.
Secretary of State Víctor Suárez said federal officials did not warn local officials about the arrival of the shipment even though, he says, they have maintained communication with the CDC. In a statement, Suárez said the CDC confirmed the arrival of a shipment of Naled.
Caribbean Business learned that it would be up to the Agriculture Department to manage the aerial spraying of Naled.
Meanwhile, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto called for a protest in Plaza Colón, in Old San Juan, against the possible aerial spraying of Naled. On Wednesday, she said the planned use of the pesticide constitutes environmental terrorism.
Scientists have said Naled is harmful to other insects and that its impact on humans is unknown. There are more than 4,400 cases of Zika in Puerto Rico and more than 500 pregnant women with the virus, which is believed to cause birth defects.
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