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South Carolina Department of Health And Environmental Control Among Winners of EPA’s First Annual Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

Release Date: 10/21/2008
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – Oct. 21, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is among 12 winners of its first annual Environmental Justice Achievement Awards during an award ceremony today in Atlanta. The awards recognize organizations for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues, ranging from reducing children’s pesticide exposure in childcare facilities to helping hurricane-displaced communities address environmental contamination so they could return home.

"We all have a stake in ensuring that our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These organizations are making a positive impact in their communities by promoting a clean and healthy environment for all people."

DHEC’s Office of the Community Liaison within the Environmental Quality Control (EQC) Office was recognized for its work over the past five years to improve public participation to achieve environmental protection. Among its most notable accomplishments, DHEC convened a Public Participation Task Force and working groups that developed public participation training materials and subsequently offered training to all EQC staff. To further enhance public participation, DHEC added public participation goals to employees’ performance plans and hired two regional community liaisons. State legislation passed in 2007 mandated the creation of a South Carolina Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. Its first meeting was held in October, 2007, and in December, 2007, the Committee convened its first regional public listening session.

Other award recipients include representatives from community-based organizations; academic institutions; state and local governments; tribal governments and indigenous organizations; and non-governmental organizations and environmental groups.

The following organizations also received awards:

Anahola Homesteaders Council (Anahola, Kauai, HI)
Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, MS)
Citizens for Environmental Justice (Savannah, GA)
Communities for a Better Environment (Huntington Park, CA)
Dillard University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans, LA)
Duke University, Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (Durham, NC)
Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)
Negocio Verde Environmental Justice Task Force (County of San Diego, CA)
New Mexico Environment Department (Santa Fe, NM)
Safer Pest Control Project (Chicago, IL)
West End Revitalization Association (Mebane, NC)

Information on the EJ Achievement Award Program, including more details about this year's recipients: epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/awards

Photo caption: (From left to right) Charles Lee, Director, EPA Office of Environmental Justice; Richard Moore, National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Chair; Robert Varney, EPA New England Regional Administrator; Karen Sprayberry and Nancy Whittle, award recipients from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; Granta Nakayama, EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA); Catherine McCabe, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, OECA; and Russell Wright, Acting Deputy Regional Administrator, EPA Region 4.