The signing of the plan and the launching of the program took place this morning in Tijuana, Baja California Norte. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher and Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) Undersecretary Raul Arriaga signed the framework document and presided over the launching of the new cooperative plan. They were joined by representatives of 10 U.S. and Mexico border states, U.S. border tribes, and other federal, state and local agencies who helped develop the program and will participate in its implementation.
"Border 2012 further advances two decades of significant federal, state and local achievements in protecting the environment and public health on both sides of the border," said Fisher. "We are excited by the prospect that the priorities we have set, and the actions we will take, will be based on input from local communities and organizations. We are convinced that this approach will keep us focused and greatly enhance our chances of success."
"This program has made us more aware of the points we have in common as well as the challenges we face jointly, instead of our differences," said Arriaga. "The environment does not know boundaries. On the contrary, the geography and resources that we share are the element that validates our friendship and binds our destinies."
SEMARNAT Secretary Victor Lichtinger and EPA Administrator Christie Whitman called for the development of the new border plan two years ago after the successful conclusion of the Border XXI program.
The ten border region states involved in the new program are Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas in Mexico and California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States.
Key elements of the new program are
- the inclusion of the 10 U.S. and Mexico border states and U.S. tribes as partners in developing and implementing the program,
- a new organizational structure focusing on regional workgroups to facilitate regional-level and local-level planning and priority setting, and,
- a focus on goals and objectives bases on measurable environmental and public health outcomes.
The development of the new program included a public participation process and a 60–day comment period. The program partners held 27 public meetings in communities along the border and received more than 1,000 comments on the draft framework document. Similar partnership efforts are planned for the implementation of the program.
The new program is the latest phase in the strong binational environmental relationship which began in 1983 with the signing of the La Paz agreement, a binational agreement aimed at protecting and improving the environment along the border.
In addition to the final framework document, Operational Guidance has been adopted to help partners, stakeholders, and the public in understanding the implementation process. In addition, the Response Summary Report provides a detailed account of the comments received during the public comment period and the incorporation of them into the final program.
Copies of these publications, as well as additional information on Border 2012,
are available in English and Spanish at either of the following websites:
Hard copies and further information are available from EPA and SEMARNAT offices:
- EPA Border Office, 4050 Rio Bravo (suite 100), El Paso, Tex. 79902, phone 915-533-7273 or 1-800-334-0741, fax 915-533-2327
- EPA Border Office, 610 West Ash St., San Diego, Calif. 92101, phone 619-235-4765 or 1-800-334-0741, fax 619-235-4771
- SEMARNAT, Unidad Coordinadora de Asuntos Internacionales, Av. San Jeronimo
458, Col. Jardines del Pedgregal, A. Obregon C.P. 019000, D.F. telephone (52-55)
TRI-ME 2002 FORM R SOFTWARE AVAILABLE FREE ON-LINEEPA has posted the reporting year 2002 Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Forms and Instructions and the TRI-ME 2002 software on the Internet. The TRI Reporting Forms and Instructions provides guidance on the applicability criteria and reporting obligations under EPCRA Section 313. TRI-ME is an interactive, automated software tool that assists facility owners and operators in making TRI applicability determinations and completing the Form R. These TRI Reporting materials can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/tri/report
Hard copies of the TRI Reporting Forms and Instructions package, which nincludes the TRI-ME software, will be available in April. When available, the package can be ordered by e-mailing a request to TRIDOCS@epa.gov.
Environmental Resource Center offers training programs across the country and on-line on how to complete the Form R. For more information, call 800-537-2372 or visit http://www.ercweb.com/train/index.htm#SARA.
FAA PROPOSES $60,000 PENALTY AGAINST REVLON FOR HAZMAT VIOLATIONSThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $60,000 civil penalty against Revlon of New York, NY, for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
The FAA alleges that on December 12, 2000, Revlon improperly offered a fiberboard box containing three one-ounce glass containers of perfume, all flammable liquids, to United Parcel Service (UPS) for transportation by air. Ground handling employees at the UPS sort facility in Louisville, KY, discovered the shipment.
Revlon offered the hazardous materials for transportation when they were not packaged, marked, classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as required by regulations. Revlon also failed to ensure employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous materials, and did not make available at all times the required emergency response information.
Revlon has 30 days from receipt of the FAA notice to submit a reply to the agency.
U.S. REACHES RECORD $34 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH COLONIAL PIPELINE FOR OIL SPILLS IN FIVE STATESThe Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Colonial Pipeline Company, resolving charges that the company violated the Clean Water Act on seven recent occasions by spilling 1.45 million gallons of oil from its 5,500 mile pipeline in five states. Under the consent decree, Colonial will upgrade environmental protection on the pipeline at an estimated cost of at least $30 million, and pay $34 million, the largest civil penalty a company has paid in EPA history.
Atlanta-based Colonial is the largest-volume pipeline transporter of refined petroleum products in the world, moving an average of 83 million gallons of petroleum products each day through an underground pipeline that stretches from Port Arthur, Texas, to Linden, N.J., passing through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
The government maintained that pipeline corrosion, mechanical damage, and operator error in seven recent spills resulted in the release of approximately 1.45 million gallons of oil and other petroleum products into the environment, including numerous rivers, streams, and wetlands. Oil spills from the pipeline damaged a variety of aquatic systems. In one spill, more than 950,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Reedy River in South Carolina in 1996, killing 35,000 fish and other species of wildlife, and dispersing more than 34 miles downstream. It can take years for an ecosystem to recover from damage caused by an oil spill. Other spills forming the basis of the penalty occurred in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
"Maintaining the integrity of our nation's industrial infrastructure, such as oil pipelines, is a critical priority for the Justice Department," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "Today's settlement sends the message that we will vigorously pursue violations of environmental laws that subject our citizens and our environment to potentially catastrophic consequences."
"This settlement is another example of EPA's 'smart enforcement' approach, illustrating how an enforcement decision translates into the very real results of cleaner air, purer water and better protected land. The combined efforts of EPA and DOJ successfully address environmental damage and prevent future harm to public health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.
Tuesday's settlement requires Colonial to designate its entire pipeline as potentially affecting "high consequence areas." This will subject the entire 5,500 mile pipeline to the pipeline integrity regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS). Under the terms of the settlement, Colonial is also required to:
- Inspect its corrosion prevention system along the entire pipeline system every five years;
- Repair problems detected in the corrosion prevention system to meet the standards developed by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE);
- Maintain its right-of-ways, including mowing and removing debris;
- Have personnel on site when utility or other excavation is occurring within five feet of the pipeline; and
- Survey and inspect the pipeline where it crosses water, and address areas of the pipeline that are exposed or insufficiently buried.
- Finally, the settlement requires Colonial to pay for an independent monitoring contractor, approved by EPA, to ensure that the company incorporates these requirements into its existing programs and then implements the requirements.
Colonial's $34 million civil penalty will go to the United States' Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The Fund underwrites oil spill cleanup activities nationwide.
On Feb. 25, 1999, Colonial Pipeline Company pled guilty to criminal charges in connection with the Reedy River, S.C., spill. The company was ordered to pay a $7 million fine and serve a five-year term of probation.
In addition to this settlement, the United States has taken action recently against several other pipeline companies for oil spill violations. For example, in January of this year, the United States and the State of Washington reached civil settlements with Olympic Pipe Line Company and Shell Pipeline Company that included penalties totaling $15 million plus injunctive and other relief for violations leading to a fatal pipeline rupture in Bellingham, Wash., in 1999. In December 2002, Olympic and Shell entered pleas and agreed to pay $21 million in criminal fines for criminal violations arising from the same incident.
The settlement agreement has been lodged at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
EPA ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR WATER UTILITIES ON GUARDING AGAINST TERRORIST AND SECURITY THREATSEPA's Office of Water recently announced that suggested measures for drinking water and wastewater systems to guard against terrorist and security threats have been issued. These measures are consistent with the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded advisory system beginning with green, which denotes low risk of terrorist/security threats and increasing in seriousness through blue, yellow, orange (current level) and red. Water utilities are included in the 13 critical sectors identified by the Department of Homeland Security as potential targets of attack.
The Agency took a two-pronged approach in disseminating these precautionary measures. First, through the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators each state's drinking water program managers and staff will receive these guidelines and will determine how best to coordinate these measures with other instructions developed by the state. This EPA document is intended to be complementary and does not override or replace the states' guidance. The states will distribute these water-related measures to the water utilities within their jurisdiction, either in the original form developed by EPA or revised to be consistent with states' system. Second, these guidelines have been posted on the Internet at a secure, password-protected site, available to drinking water utilities only, that provides information to water utilities on a variety of critical water infrastructure protection activities.