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U.S. Transfers Hazardous Materials Response Equipment to Mexico

Release Date: 06/05/2009
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Anthony Suttice at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(Dallas, Texas – June 5, 2009) As part of a groundbreaking first between the United States and Mexican governments, personal protective suits, multi-gas meters, and related hazardous materials response equipment for Cuidad Juárez first responders have been transferred to Mexico’s Dirección de Protección Civil (Civil Protection Agency) through a collaborative agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Northern Command under the U.S.-Mexico Border 2012 Program.

The primary goal of this partnership is to strengthen border hazardous material response capabilities by building capacity in Mexico to respond to environmental pollution incidents that impact or threaten to impact the environment and public health within the border region.

“The training and transfer of response equipment for our colleagues from Mexico are important steps to achieve effective response along the border,” said EPA Region 6 Superfund Division Director Sam Coleman. “EPA is pleased to have the U.S. Northern Command as a partner in making our border a safer place to live.”

“The coordinated efforts involving all levels of government of both sides of the border would allow us to deal with any environmental contingency that could put at risk the health and well being of citizens within our border communities,” said Mexico’s Border 2012 Federal Chair and Delegate for SEMARNAT in the State of Chihuahua, Ing. Jose Ignacio Legarreta.

In addition to the hazardous materials response equipment, Mexican personnel are undergoing specialized training to enhance bi-national responses to chemical accidents and spills and natural disasters. These hazardous materials training courses and development programs are being provided to Mexican first responders from Protección Civil with funds obtained through the Border 2012 partnership between EPA and U.S. Northern Command.

U.S. Northern Command was established October 1, 2002, to provide command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities in defending, protecting and securing the United States and its interests.

The Border 2012 U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program works to protect the environment and public health for ten states on both sides of the 2,000-mile border, including 26 U.S. tribes and seven groups of Mexican indigenous people. The bi-national Border 2012 approach seeks to reduce pollution in water, air, and on land, enhance joint readiness for environmental response and improve environmental stewardship along the U.S.-Mexico border. EPA is the National Coordinator for Border 2012's program areas in the U.S. and the Procuraduria Federal de Protección al Ambienta (PROFEPA) and Protección Civil are the National Coordinators for corresponding areas in Mexico. Other EPA focus areas within the Border 2012 Program include the facilitation of bi-monthly meetings and planning initiatives between adjacent U.S. and Mexican cities (“Sister Cities”), training and exercises, and grants programs designed to build long-term readiness capability and strengthen cross-border response coordination.

For more information on the Border 2012 Program: http://www.epa.gov/usmexicoborder/

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/region6

EPA audio file is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/jun2009.html

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