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ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST POLLUTERS ON U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

 ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TAKEN
 AGAINST POLLUTERS ON U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
 SAN FRANCISCO, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- EPA Administrator William K. Reilly today announced the first enforcement actions in the United States resulting from efforts outlined in the Integrated Environmental Plan for the Mexican-U.S. Border Area -- a total of 17 federal and state actions, seeking more than $2 million in penalties.
 All of the state and federal actions involved violations of U.S. environmental laws in the border area, or violations of U.S. laws governing transboundary shipments of hazardous wastes or toxic substances.
 The Mexican government also announced today environmental inspection and supervision activities in Mexican states along the U. S. border to verify compliance in the maquiladora industry with Mexico's environmental laws and regulations. As a result of these activities, the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL), Mexico's environmental agency, ordered the shutdown of eight non-complying facilities and the forfeiture of surety bonds posted by an additional four companies. Notices of infractions also were issued against another 22 facilities.
 U.S. federal enforcement resulted in two criminal indictments and 10 civil actions for violations of federal air, toxic substance, community right-to-know, and waste laws.
 The U.S. federal criminal indictments were handed down in two cases that involved the illegal exportation of hazardous wastes to Mexico. One of the cases was developed as a result of cooperative efforts by customs officials of both countries, with assistance from a number of U.S. local, state and federal environmental and law enforcement agencies. A tip-off by Mexican customs officials, after refusing an alleged bribe at the border crossing, resulted in the indictment of Sbicca of California Inc., of El Monte, Calif. and three of its employees who were transporting hazardous waste into Mexico illegally. In the second case, Ignacio Lopez, the operator of a Calexico, Calif., transportation company, was charged with illegally shipping a number of different types of hazardous waste into Mexico. This case was investigated with the cooperative assistance of Mexico's environmental agency, as well as the U.S. Customs Service, EPA, and the Imperial County Health Department.
 Eight of the civil actions were recently filed EPA administrative enforcement actions, and two were judicial actions brought by the Department of Justice on behalf of EPA. In addition, California took four actions, and Arizona filed one action enforcing air and hazardous waste laws in the Mexican border area of these states.
 The U.S. federal civil judicial actions, which seek up to $25,000 per day for each violation, were filed against Apache Nitrogen Products Inc., Benson, Ariz., and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative Inc., Cochise, Ariz. The EPA administrative actions, seeking nearly $1.7 million in penalties, were taken against: D.M.I. Aviation, Tucson, Ariz.; RhoChem Corp., Inglewood, Calif.; Scripto-Tokai Corp., Fontana, Calif.; Apex Microtechnology Corp., Tucson, Ariz.; and four firms in El Paso, Texas: Swift-Eckrich Co., Consumer Ice Co., Adobe Industries, and El Paso Wire Inc. (A further description of these actions follows.)
 The Mexican actions resulted from 42 facility inspections on May 25 and 26. According to the Mexican government's announcement, seven facilities in the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas were temporarily ordered to partially shut down and another company in the state of Coahuila was subjected to a complete temporary shutdown, all of them as safety measures. In addition, four companies which had entered previous compliance agreements with the Mexican environmental agency were found to be behind in their schedules of compliance. Surety bonds posted by these companies to secure their compliance were ordered forfeited, and the posting of new surety bonds was ordered. Minor violations were found at another 22 facilities, which received notices of the infractions.
 "The Bush and Salinas Administrations are determined to move aggressively against polluters in order to improve public health and the environment along both sides of the border," Reilly said. "These actions demonstrate the spirit of cross-border cooperation that infuses the border plan. We are seeing the tangible benefits of the mutual exchange of information and cooperation, at the federal and state levels, to prevent and clean up border pollution."
 To assure compliance, the number of Mexican environmental inspectors working along the border has quadrupled since 1989 -- now at 200 -- and Mexico's operational budget for the border area increased by 450 percent this year. President Bush's proposed FY 1993 budget calls for an expenditure of $241 million to address environmental problems along the Mexican-U.S. border. The environmental agencies of the two countries are cooperating in a number of areas, including developing capacity to target facilities for enforcement actions by each country in their respective jurisdictions; planning cooperative plant visits on both sides of the border; conducting training of enforcement personnel; and sharing information on each other's legal system, regulatory approaches, and enforcement methods.
 In addition to the inspection and compliance actions on May 25 and 26, Mexico also announced that in the Jan. 1 - May 22 period, its environmental agency had conducted a total of 75 inspection visits, which resulted in the temporary partial closures of 35 plants, the temporary total closure of two plants, and one permanent plant shutdown.
 The enforcement actions by EPA were taken in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service and the border states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. The Mexican environmental agency cooperated with the state agencies of Mexico's six border states in moving against polluters in Mexico.
 "These enforcement actions reflect EPA's new priority for targeting polluters in the crucial border area," EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement Herbert H. Tate, Jr. said.
 "The Department of Justice has filed the judicial complaints as part of this cooperative effort to gain environmental compliance along the border area," Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Barry M. Hartman said. "The Department of Justice is committed to being a member of this team effort to focus enforcement efforts on areas of the country that need a special emphasis."
 California and Arizona took separate actions as part of the enforcement effort. The California Environmental Protection Agency's Department of Toxic Substances Control issued enforcement orders against four San Diego County facilities, including two U.S. government installations, for violations of California hazardous waste laws, seeking $270,000 in penalties. Arizona issued a compliance order seeking cleanup of an estimated 500 tons of aluminum dross at a facility in the border area. This action was taken in conjunction with EPA's action against the same facility seeking penalties for hazardous waste violations. United States Enforcement Actions
 Criminal Actions
 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
 -- Sbicca of California Inc., of El Monte, and Dominic Sbicca, Eduardo Reyna and Juvenal Cabrera-Cruz, three of its employees were indicted by a federal grand jury May 14 in San Diego on three felony counts, including conspiracy, illegal transportation of hazardous waste without a manifest, and the illegal export into Mexico of spent solvents from the shoe manufacturing company. The indictment alleges that the hazardous wastes, which included trichloroethane, were driven by truck to the Tijuana border crossing, where one of the defendants allegedly offered $200 to a Mexican Customs official to allow the hazardous waste to enter Mexico. The Mexican official refused the alleged bribe, returned the truck to the U.S. Customs Service, and alerted U.S. Customs to the returned illegal shipment.
 -- Ignacio Lopez, operator of Mexam Parking and Warehouse Inc. of Calexico, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego May 7 on three felony counts of illegal transportation of hazardous waste without a manifest and three felony counts of illegal exportation of hazardous waste into Mexico between Sept. 18, 1991 and Jan. 27, 1992. Civil Judicial Actions Clean Air Act
 -- A complaint was filed on June 3, 1992, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against Apache Nitrogen Products Inc., Benson, which operates a nitric acid plant that emits nitrogen oxide. The complaint alleges that in October 1988, Apache Nitrogen operated the plant for 14 days without operating its pollution control equipment. U.S. EPA is seeking up to $25,000 per day per violation, as well as an injunction against further violations of the Clean Air Act and its regulations.
 -- A complaint was filed on June 3, 1992, in the U.S. district Court for the District of Arizona against Arizona Electric Power Cooperative Inc. (AEPCO), which operates an electric power generating station in Cochise, for ceasing routine use of air pollution control equipment without applying for a required permit, and for its failure to utilize effective operation and maintenance practices while operating the facility, which resulted in excessive emissions of air pollutants. U.S. EPA is seeking up to $25,000 per day per violation. Civil Administrative Actions Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
 -- EPA Region 9 filed a complaint on June 2, 1992, against D.M.I. Aviation Inc., Tucson, for accumulating hazardous waste containing toxic levels of lead and cadmium at is facility in violation of federal and state hazardous waste regulations. D.M.I. operates a smelting process for recovering aluminum from aircraft parts, and generates an aluminum dross which is a hazardous waste by virtue of failing tests to determine toxicity due to the presence of lead and cadmium. The U.S. EPA Region 9 and the State of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality have combined their enforcement authorities to assess penalties and order cleanup against D.M.I. The EPA complaint alleges that D.M.I. stored and disposed of hazardous wastes without a permit and also failed to properly analyze or identify the material and failed to manage the waste properly. U.S. EPA is seeking a civil administrative penalty of $1,557,000.
 -- EPA Region 9 filed a complaint on June 2, 1992, against RhoChem Corp., Inglewood, for importing drums of incorrectly identified ignitable hazardous waste into the United States from Mexico. RhoChem is a major importer of hazardous waste from the maquiladora industry in Mexico for storage prior to treatment or disposal in the United States. U.S. EPA is seeking $39,500 in civil administrative penalties. Toxic Substances Control Act
 -- EPA Region 9 filed a complaint on May 21, 1992, against Scripto-Tokai Corp., Fontana, alleging that the company shipped toxic substances back and forth across the border between its plants in California and in Mexico without notifying U.S. EPA. U.S. EPA is seeking $17,000 in civil administrative penalties. Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know (EPCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
 -- EPA Region 6 filed a complaint on May 18, 1992, against Consumer Ice Co. of El Paso, for failing to file hazardous chemical inventory reports with the fire department, the local emergency planning committee and the state health department for calendar year 1991, as required by EPCRA Section 312. This case resulted from a series of inspections and investigations on a number of facilities conducted by EPA Region 6 in May and June to determine compliance with EPCRA hazardous chemical inventory and release reporting requirements. U.S. EPA is seeking $8,250 in civil administrative penalties.
 -- EPA Region 6 filed a complaint on May 18, 1992, against Adobe Industries, of El Paso, for failing to file hazardous chemical inventory reports with the fire department, the local emergency planning committee and the state health department for calendar year 1991, as required by EPCRA Section 312. This case resulted from a series of inspections and investigations on a number of facilities conducted by EPA Region 6 in May and June to determine compliance with EPCRA hazardous chemical inventory and release reporting requirements. U.S. EPA is seeking $8,250 in civil administrative penalties.
 -- EPA Region 6 filed a complaint on May 18, 1992 against El Paso Wire Inc. of El Paso, for failing to file hazardous chemical inventory reports with the fire department, the local emergency planning committee and the state health department for calendar year 1991, as required by EPCRA Section 312. This case resulted from a series of inspections and investigations on a number of facilities conducted by EPA Region 6 in May and June to determine compliance with EPCRA hazardous chemical inventory and release reporting requirements. U.S. EPA is seeking $8,250 in civil administrative penalties.
 -- EPA Region 6 filed a complaint on April 21, 1992, against Swift-Eckrich Co., of El Paso, alleging violations of EPCRA Section 304(a) and CERCLA Section 103(a). Swift-Eckrich had failed to notify the National Response Center and the State of Texas of a release of ammonia from the facility which occurred on July 28, 1991. This case resulted from a series of inspections and investigations on a number of facilities conducted by EPA Region 6 in May and June to determine compliance with EPCRA hazardous chemical inventory and release reporting requirements. U.S. EPA is seeking $16,000 in civil administrative penalties.
 -- EPA Region 9 filed a complaint on May 6, 1992, against Apex Microtechnology Corp., alleging that the company failed to report its use of Freon-113 at its integrated circuit factory in Tucson, as required by EPCRA Section 312. U.S. EPA is seeking $34,000 in civil administrative penalties.
 -0- 6/3/92
 /CONTACT: Lois Grunwald, 415-744-1588; Luke Hester, 202-260-1383; or Roger Meachum, 214-655-2200, all of U.S. EPA/ CO: U.S. EPA ST: California, Arizona, Texas IN: SU:


MC-RM -- SF006 -- 6825 06/03/92 22:24 EDT
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