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Release Date: 3/16/2000
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     San Francisco -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the signing of the first Binational Prevention and Emergency Response Plan between the border cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.  The plan improves the ability of these U.S.-Mexico sister cities to jointly prevent and respond to emergencies involving fire, chemicals, or hazardous materials which may affect border residents.

     In  a formal ceremony held today at the Nogales Port of Entry, Mayor Cesar Rios of Nogales, Arizona and Presidente Municipal Lic. Wesceslao Cota Montoya of Nogales, Sonora signed the plan, which created a Binational Emergency Planning Committee (BEPC). The BEPC will be a forum to maintain and improve binational relations and work with the community, industry and public officials.

     "This binational plan marks an important and historical advance in cooperation between our two nations," said Felicia Marcus, U.S. EPA's Regional Administrator.  "But it is also a local plan  developed between the two cities of Nogales to ensure emergencies are handled as quickly as possible and in a cooperative manner.  EPA will continue to work with these two border cities  to help them to prevent accidents and to plan and prepare for the ones that do occur."
     In recent years, the U.S.-Mexico border area has experienced tremendous economic and industrial growth, producing a vibrant economy and thousands of new jobs in the border region.  However, increased trade and industrial activity has also brought greater risk of exposure to toxic chemicals from the use and transportation of hazardous materials.  The Binational Prevention and Emergency Response Plan was developed to identify and  reduce these risks.

     Representatives from the Nogales  Fire Department, the Protecci¢n Civil in Mexico, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Mexican Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the U.S. and Mexican Customs and Immigration and other state and federal agencies developed the plan over several months.  

     The governments of the United States and Mexico have been working together since signing the La Paz environmental agreement in 1983.  EPA pledged assistance to help 14 pairs of sister cities along the U.S.-Mexican border to prevent and prepare for accidents involving hazardous materials.  Last month, the sister cities of San Luis, Ariz., and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, signed a Binational Prevention and Emergency Response Plan.

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