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Release Date: 11/9/2001
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, Press Office, 415/947-4248,

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the signing of a binational plan that will improve the ability of sister cities Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta in Sonora, Mexico to jointly prevent and respond to fire or hazardous materials emergencies.

     In  a formal ceremony held today at the Douglas Port of Entry, Douglas Mayor Ray Borane and Presidente Municipal Lic. Irma Villalobos de Teran of Agua Prieta, Sonora signed the "Binational Prevention and Emergency Response Plan," which creates a planning committee that will maintain and improve binational relations and work with the community, industry and public officials.

     "This binational plan marks a historic advance in environmental planning between our two nations," said Wayne Nastri, regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Thanks to the hard work of Douglas and Agua Prieta officials, as well as other U.S. and Mexican agencies, this local plan will ensure that emergencies are handled cooperatively."
     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.  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.

     "The heightened national response to the events of Sept. 11 have further increased the need for cooperation.  The EPA will continue to work with these two border cities to help them prevent accidents and to plan and prepare for the ones that do occur," Nastri said.  

     Representatives from the Douglas  Fire Department, the Proteccion Civil in Mexico, the U.S.

EPA, the Mexican Attorney General for Environmental Protection, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. and Mexican Customs and Immigration and other state and federal agencies developed the plan over the last year.

     The U.S. and Mexican governments have been working together since signing the La Paz environmental agreement in 1983.  The EPA pledged assistance to help 14 pairs of sister cities along the U.S.-Mexican border to prevent and prepare for hazardous materials accidents.  Last year, the sister cities of San Luis, Ariz. and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, and Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora signed binational prevention and emergency response plans.

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