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The Maquiladora Industry, Adverse Environmental Impact, and Proposed Solutions

Melanie Treviño, Adolfo Fernandez


Although border environmental problems emanate from a variety of sources, this article focuses on the problems arizing from toxic materials used in the maquiladora industry, and disposal of the resultant wastes. It is not always possible to trace the sources of hazardous wastes that are improperly and illegally disposed, but the structure of the maquiladora industry may indicate the extent of its involvement in the problem. Certain accounts of the maquiladora industry show it as having four predominant sectors: with 27.8 percent consisting of electric/electronics, 15 percent textiles and apparel, 13.4 percent furniture, and 8.4 percent transportation, mainly autos and auto components (U.S. International Trade Commission 1990:5-14.) Moody's Investors Service highlights two of these industry sectors (autos and electronics) as being among those in peril in the 1990s because of stricter environmental regulations (El Paso Times 30 April 1991). Additionally, some statistical evidence can be gleaned from manifests filed in response to government regulations requiring returns of hazardous wastes to their country of origin. So it is not surprising that anecdotal evidence of unsafe disposal has led to fears regarding continuing environmental endangerment.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229