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2002 News Releases

 

Border Enforcement Efforts Protect Public Health

Release Date: 10/31/2002
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its first penalties at Texas-Mexico border warehouses for non-compliance with hazardous waste regulations. These actions are an escalation of a three-year compliance effort in partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to improve compliance in the growing warehouse industry along the border. In the last month alone, fines have totaled more than $30,000.

      Border warehouses are often used to store materials for transfer between U.S. and Mexican companies. Concerns arise when hazardous materials are abandoned at the warehouse. In some cases, hazardous materials that once legally were products become hazardous waste. Additional concerns arise when a seller describes a shipment of hazardous waste as a product to be recycled or disposed of in Mexico. Both cases leave the warehouse operator responsible for meeting the hazardous waste regulations in order to protect public health and the environment.

      "EPA's and TCEQ's efforts helped remove more than 100,000 pounds of improperly managed hazardous materials from border warehouses. With inspections, enforcement and education, we will continue to ensure that hazardous material handlers do not profit from practices that threaten public health and the environment," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

      TCEQ Commissioner Ralph Marquez said, "Non-compliance has been a persistent problem in the growing storage industry along the border. This joint effort between the State of Texas and EPA demonstrates that problems associated with hazardous waste storage can be solved through education and compliance monitoring efforts."

      EPA's and TCEQ's compliance efforts include an intense education campaign to ensure border warehouse operators know how to identify hazardous waste, quickly respond to abandoned materials, and get technical help to ensure hazardous waste is managed and disposed of properly. Warehouse employees are trained to inspect cargo, labels and paperwork for consistency, and to report suspicious activity.

      More information on border warehouse issues is available on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6en/h/border-warehouse.htm.


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