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EPA Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny Honors Environmental Achievements in U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 04/30/2002
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(#02032) New York, New York -- As part of the celebration of Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny presented 17 awards today to New Yorkers for their outstanding contributions to a better environment and the protection of human health. Region 2 Administrator Kenny presented EPA’s Environmental Quality Awards and the President’s Environmental Youth Awards at a ceremony held today at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Robert D. Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association also spoke at today’s event.

“When you get right down to it, protecting the environment is a job for everybody. And it is a job for every day,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “Whether it is a recycling paper or taking public transit or keeping the thermostat low in the winter, each of us makes decisions every day that have a direct impact on our environment.”

The Environmental Quality Awards are EPA’s way of taking its hat off to those who work the hardest to preserve and protect our environment and public health. The President’s Environmental Youth Awards recognize the outstanding environmental achievements of young people.

EPA Region 2 presents the Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, business representatives, government officials and media representatives from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of the environment in the region. Winners are chosen by a panel of EPA employees who review nominations submitted from inside and outside the Agency.

The Winners of the 2002 Environmental Quality Awards in Puerto Rico are:

INDIVIDUALS

Ignacio Barsottelli

Santurce, Puerto Rico

Recognizing the seriousness of Puerto Rico’s solid waste problems, Mr. Barsottelli founded the nonprofit Yo Limpio A Puerto Rico (I Clean Puerto Rico). He created environmental education programs and activities that provide solutions for waste management, bolstering public awareness about the importance of recycling. He worked with thousands of volunteers to clean areas and created conservation plans for these areas. He also created public awareness campaigns to remind people of their responsibility to take care of the natural systems in which they live.

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNITY GROUP

Troop 42, Boy Scouts of America

Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Over the past ten years, the members of this troop in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, saw the disappearance of natural areas for them to conduct their outdoor, nature-based activities. They decided to take on the role of stewards and make an ongoing commitment to take care of the surrounding green areas. Their first project was to plant trees along a newly constructed large avenue. They have participated in an annual Tree Day organized by the Fideicomiso de Conservacion de Puerto Rico, working to establish new forested areas and improve other green spaces along roads and in parks. In all, they have planted about one thousand trees. In the past two years, the scouts completed 14 Eagle Scout projects – representing about 1,400 hours of work – which include completing an educational trail map for Isla de Mona, planting 200 native trees, creating a garden at a halfway house and identifying tree species in the urban forest of Colegio San Ignacio.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

Hix Island House

Vieques, Puerto Rico

An architect by training, John Hix designed his hotel on Vieques, Puerto Rico, to be as environmentally benign as possible. The hotel uses solar energy to power its refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, pumps, stereos and computers. Each room is designed with oversized windows to take advantage of the island’s trade winds and has energy-efficient appliances. The hotel has a backup cistern to collect rainwater and uses solar panels to heat it. In addition, the “grey water” from the showers and sinks flow into the hotel’s gardens to help nourish fruit trees and flowers. Even kitchen scraps are reused, composted for use on the hotel’s gardens. This hotel allows visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the island without overly burdening the ecological systems that support it.

Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

Fajardo, Puerto Rico

At its facility in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Pfizer initiated a Water Conservation and Waste Minimization Program with a goal of reusing 100 percent of its wastewater. After many efforts at reinventing how it operates, the facility now reuses about 20,500 gallons per day of treated water in three cooling towers. This means that there is zero discharge from the facility’s wastewater treatment plant, whereas before wastewater was sent to the local public treatment plant and then to the Fajardo River. New ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis units are being installed this year to further improve the quality of the water. In addition, boilers were improved so that they could recover water from the steam they created.

PRESS & MEDIA

Maricelis Rivera-Santos

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Since 1998, Ms. Rivera-Santos has covered environmental issues in Puerto Rico for the San Juan-based newspapers El Vocero and El Mundo. As part of that beat, she has covered the controversy over the U.S. Navy’s training exercises on the island of Vieques. She has also written about an array of environmental topics, including: turtles, manatees, the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, inadequate waste disposal, industrial pollution and the environmental damage caused by construction projects. Because of her dedication and thoroughness, many of her stories have been featured on the front page of the paper, which helps bring these important issues to the forefront of public consciousness.