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EPA Opens Emergency Environmental Response Office in Las Vegas

Release Date: 2/6/2003
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/947-4306, Cell#415/760-5420

     Several Members Deployed to Texas to Assist with Shuttle Recovery Efforts
SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a grand opening today in Las Vegas for the Environmental Response Team-West, a new office with staff who travel throughout the country to address environmental accidents.

     Several staff from this office have been deployed to Texas to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency with recovery efforts from the Space Shuttle tragedy.  EPA emergency responders are conducting environmental monitoring and assisting in the cleanup of hazardous materials.  For more information on EPA's assistance in Space Shuttle recovery activities, go to:

     The new office on South Maryland Parkway houses a team of 15 emergency responders who provide 24-hour, immediate access to technical and scientific expertise in the following areas:
          Air, soil, and water monitoring and sampling;
          Assessing and responding to chemical, biological, and radiological threats;
          On-site identification and analysis of contaminated materials;
          Environmental risk assessments;
          Oil spill cleanups;
          Health and safety protocols;  and
          Hazardous waste site cleanups at extremely complex and sensitive sites.
    "With this new facility, EPA will be better prepared to respond to environmental emergencies throughout the western United States," said Marianne Horinko, associate administrator of the EPA's Superfund program in Washington, D.C.   "One big lesson we have learned over the past couple of years is how valuable it is to have resources close to environmental emergencies. With the opening of this western center, the Environmental Response Team can broaden its capabilities and provide more environmental and homeland security assistance than ever before."

     EPA emergency responders have worked on 1,900  hazardous materials releases and oil spills in all 50 states and all of the United States territories and Commonwealths.  Some of the most complex, challenging, and high profile sites they have worked at include: the World Trade Center in New York; anthrax cleanups in Washington, D.C. and Boca Raton, Fla.; Love Canal, N.Y.; Valley of Drums, Ky.; Times Beach, Mo.; Ashland Oil Spill, Pittsburgh, Pa. and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.  
     Since Sept. 11, with a Homeland Security Strategic Plan as the EPA's blueprint, the agency has:
          Hired 50 new on-scene coordinators and 20 new Environmental Response Team      members to strengthen the EPA's ability to respond simultaneously to multiple incidents;
          Provided advanced training and state-of-the-art equipment to staff who will respond to any chemical, biological, or radiological incident;
          Awarded nearly $50 million in grants to the nation's largest drinking water facilities to assess their vulnerabilities and make security improvements;
          Established a Homeland Security Research Center to coordinate research in areas such as building decontamination, rapid risk assessment and drinking water protection; and Established a new component of the agency's Environmental Response Team in Las Vegas.