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EPA Welcomes The USPS Northeast Area To The National Partnership For Environmental Priorities

Release Date: 11/30/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, November 30, 2005

(#05144) NEW YORK, N.Y. ---- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials were in Albany today to welcome the U.S. Postal Service, Northeast Area as a new partner in a national voluntary program targeted to eliminate over 5,000,000 pounds of 31 so-called "priority" chemicals. Almost all of these chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and/or toxic in the environment. More than 70 individual industrial, state and federal facilities and organizations have joined the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP), and the list is growing. The U.S. Postal Service Northeast Area (USPSNEA) office, based in Windsor, Connecticut, oversees more than 3,200 facilities in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, upstate New York and Connecticut. .

Janette Petersen, EPA's Associate Director of the National Hazardous Waste and Management Division, who presented USPSNEA officials with a plaque, said, "This type of leadership and commitment isn't new to the U.S. Postal Service Northeast Area office. It is really an extension of an already successful partnership with EPA that began in March of 1997 when they joined WasteWise, the Agency's municipal waste reduction program. In fact, last month this organization was inducted into the Wastewise program's Hall of Fame."

EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has the second highest number of NPEP members in the country with 12, wants any generator of one or more of these chemicals in the region to partner with EPA through NPEP to better protect human health and the environment. Walter Mudgan, the Director of the Division of Environmental Planning and Protection for EPA Region 2 and representing EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg, summed up today's event. "We need more members to complete what we feel is unfinished business. Our focus has been to bring in volunteers from among the top 20 generators of priority chemicals in our region and to secure their pledge to remove or reduce the substances NPEP has targeted from their products and processes. While the USPS Northeast Area is not part of that group, we applaud its efforts and encourage others to follow its fine example."

USPSNEA expects to prevent nearly 6,000 pounds of lead from polluting the environment by recycling computer components and will also recycle 45,676 mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs. Mercury is a hazardous substance of national concern. Charles Vidich, the Northeast Area's Manager of Environmental Compliance, said, "We are pleased to join the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities. The Postal Service strongly supports this program since it is consistent with the environmental initiatives that we have already undertaken. Our partnership with EPA benefits our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve."

NPEP members are focused on eliminating or reducing their use of chemicals that, when released into the environment, can linger for decades. If improperly disposed, these chemicals can repeatedly cycle through the land, water and air. When airborne, they can cross state and national borders, be deposited on soil and water bodies, settle in sediments and, ultimately, be consumed by and stored in the fat reserves of living organisms. An unfortunate example of this problem is the prevalence of fish advisories resulting from mercury contamination.

For more information on the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities and EPA's other voluntary programs for organizations to help make a better and safer environment visit http://www.EPA.gov/wastemin/