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EPA Commends Environmental Achievers in New Jersey

Release Date: 04/21/2006
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(NEW YORK, NY) In celebration of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today honored six individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts to protect the environment in New Jersey. Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented EPAs Environmental Quality Awards and acknowledged winners and runners-up for the Presidents Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) at a ceremony in EPAs offices in Manhattan. WNBC-TV’s New Jersey Bureau Reporter, Brian Thompson, who was also commended for his continued dedication to excellence in environmental reporting, delivered the keynote address.

These remarkable winners are catalysts for environmental change in local communities,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. Their exceptional efforts demonstrate that by reducing waste and preserving our precious natural resources, each of us can make great strides in improving the environment.”

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside EPA.

EPA also acknowledged the winner and honorable mention recipients in the annual Presidents Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program. This program encourages young people to study the environment and better understand their relationship to it. The national competition is open to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPAs ten regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. This years winners received the award from President Bush yesterday in a ceremony held at the White House. Burlington County Institute of Technology received a PEYA honorable mention for student efforts in obtaining federal “StormReady” designation for Medford Township. Waldwick High School’s documentary and symposium on the New Jersey Highlands was also awarded a PEYA honorable mention. For more information about the PEYA program, go to For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to


Individual Citizen
Wilbur McNeil
Wilbur McNeil is the founder and current president of the Weequahic Park Association, Inc. His relentless efforts as a community advocate are responsible for the revitalization of Newark’s Weequahic Park, a historic 311-acre landscape designed by the prestigious Olmstead firm. Once one of America’s premier parks, conditions had deteriorated until 1991, when Wilbur and fellow joggers joined together to demand improvements in park infrastructure. New playgrounds, shade trees, fields and running paths have made Weequahic Park a model for New Jersey, thanks in large part to Wilbur’s remarkable vision and leadership.

Business & Industry
Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology,
Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC)
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at HUMC represents one of the first hospital-based programs with the specific mission of identifying and ultimately preventing exposures to environmental factors that may cause pediatric cancer and other health problems in children. Leading by example, their “Greening the Cleaning” program eliminates, to the greatest extent possible, cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replaces them with environmentally responsible products, where available. Additionally, HUMC’s Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which opened in December 2005, exceeds the U.S. Green Building Council’s guidelines for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Basil Maher
Maher Terminals, Inc.
Maher Terminals, Inc., under the leadership of president Basil Maher, has made great strides in port improvements on the East Coast by implementing extended gate hours, upgrading from diesel cranes to electric cranes, and developing a chassis pool. The company has also switched to low sulfur diesel, which has a sulfur concentration of 500 ppm, five years ahead of the required deadline. Current non-road diesel has a sulfur concentration of over 3500 ppm. Thanks to such improvements, Maher has been able increase its fleet of equipment by 25% in the last three years while simultaneously reducing emissions by 30%.

Federal, State, Local or Tribal Government or Agency
NJPDES Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
The NJPDES Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program, part of NJDEP’s Division of Water Quality, developed one of the most comprehensive and efficient programs in the nation to address issues of nonpoint pollution in New Jersey waterways. The program worked closely with an advisory group consisting of representatives from municipal, county and state agencies to craft an innovative and efficient policy framework. The Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program continues to provide permit support to over 675 permitted agencies, in addition to undertaking a statewide education program focusing on stormwater-borne pollution, providing additional outreach to the public.


Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT)
“Medford Township StormReady”
After witnessing the worst flooding event in the history of Medford, New Jersey on July 12, 2004, students in the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Program at BCIT decided to put their knowledge of meteorology and Geographic Information Systems to work. The class collaborated with local and county emergency management professionals to obtain “StormReady” certification from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The project focused on increasing community awareness of emergency procedures through workshops and educational materials prepared by the students themselves. Just one year after the floods, Medford Township became the first federally-designated “StormReady” community in Burlington County.

Waldwick High School (WHS)
“The New Jersey Highlands”
The New Jersey Highlands, a 1,250 square mile forested area in the northwestern part of the state, is home to an enormous diversity of plant and animal species. When WHS seniors Derrick Lo, Mike Revello, Jeremy Ryan and Steve Urgo learned that the Highlands, which supply clean drinking water to more than half the population of New Jersey, were threatened by urban sprawl, they designed a community awareness project to promote preservation. The result was an original documentary on the New Jersey Highlands and a Highlands Symposium, held on October 20, 2005, which attracted hundreds of attendees in support of their cause.