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EPA Presents Environmental Merit Awards to 2 in Rhode Island

Release Date: 04/18/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617-918-1013)

BOSTON – Two individuals and organizations from Rhode Island were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their contributions to the environment.

The Rhode Island winners were among 33 recipients from around New England that received Environmental Merit Awards at an Earth Day ceremony at Faneuil Hall. The awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew nearly 100 nominations.

"The individuals and groups we are honoring today are New England's real environmental heroes," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA New England. "Often with little fanfare, they have invested huge amounts of their time to make New England's environmental cleaner and safer for future generations. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude."

The winners from Rhode Island were:


Stephen G. Morin of Wickford: As administrator for environmental response at the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Stephen Morin has been a leader in protecting human health and the environment. Among his accomplishments, Steve was able to limit the damage done by the 1989 World Prodigy spill of nearly 300,000 gallons of oil through his effective leadership over cleanup resources. Steve also worked tirelessly from 1996 until 2000 to remove potential air and water pollution threats posed by a 6.5 million tire pile in Smithfield, the second largest tire pile in the country. Finally, Steve oversaw the cleanup of the 1996 North Cape oil spill, which released more than 800,000 gallons of heating oil into Rhode Island Sound, shutting down much of the state's lobster industry and killing millions of pounds of shellfish. Steve was instrumental in negotiating an $18 million settlement that addressed natural resource damages caused by the North Cape spill and in helping Rhode Island to better handle any future spills. Steve's upcoming retirement after many years of service will be a big loss to DEM and the state's environment.

Environmental, Community or Non-Profit Organizations

Audubon Society of Rhode Island in Smithfield: Last July, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island opened the doors to its new, $3 million Environmental Education Center in Bristol. The 10,500 square-foot facility contains state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits, classrooms and an auditorium. And it's situated on a scenic 28-acre wildlife refuge with a wide array of habitats – meadows, woodlands, marshes and a shoreline. Added together, it's easy to see why the center has become the state's primary environmental education destination, attracting about 25,000 school children each year. A multi-year planning effort, the education center includes such exhibits as a fabricated 33-foot right whale with a cutaway to view internal organs, a tide pool touch-tank containing native marine life, a saltwater marsh, a cornfield habitat at night and a woodchuck den. Unlike any other regional facility, the center effectively closes the learning loop by integrating indoor displays with the natural habitats outdoors.

For more information on EPA New England's Environmental Merit Awards, visit the EPA's Website at: