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Release Date: 7/25/2000
Contact Information: David Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     U.S. And Mexican Companies Pay Penalties For Hazardous Waste Violations, Agree To Train Other Maquiladoras  

     SAN FRANCISCO --  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that Chambers Belt Co. of Phoenix, Arizona; Joffroy Customs Broker Inc. of Nogales, Arizona; and Maquiladora Chambers de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. of Pitiquito, Sonora, Mexico, have agreed to pay penalties totaling over $50,000 for violating U.S. hazardous waste laws, in a cooperative binational law enforcement action along the U.S.-Mexico border.      

     "Companies in the U.S. and Mexico are responsible for ensuring the public that hazardous wastes are properly managed," said Jeff Scott, U.S. EPA's Acting western regional hazardous waste director.  "No one can use the border to hide.  Today marks an important step in integrating binational enforcement strategies to ensure the legal and safe movement of hazardous waste across the border."

     This is the first time that a Mexican facility has been fined for not complying with the U.S. environmental laws.  All three companies have been working cooperatively to resolve the violations with the U.S. EPA.  The Mexican Federal Attorney General for the Environment (PROFEPA), the Mexican National Ecology Institute (INE), the U.S. Customs Service, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality have worked with the EPA to develop the case.  Maquiladora Chambers has agreed to pay a $3,164 penalty and to train other maquiladoras in Mexico on the U.S. and Mexican legal requirements concerning the shipment of hazardous waste, at an estimated cost of over $8,000.

     In 1997, the Mexican belt manufacturer shipped flammable hazardous waste from its facility to Chambers Belt Co. and Joffroy Customs Broker Inc., facilities which are not authorized to receive hazardous waste, and failed to appropriately package, label, and complete manifests for the hazardous waste.  The Arizona firms were cited $15,525 and $25,344 respectively for storing hazardous waste without a permit and improperly managing hazardous waste containers.

      Shipments of hazardous waste to the United States have the potential to cause harm to human health and the environment.  Almost all of the hazardous waste shipped from Mexico to the U.S. must  travel through border crossings already burdened with heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic.   Ensuring that hazardous waste is properly handled in the U.S. will remain a challenge for U.S. regulatory agencies.  

     Mexican law requires that the hazardous wastes generated by maquiladoras are returned to the country of origin for management.  The U.S. consents to importing hazardous waste from Mexico when the shipment complies with U.S. laws.  

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