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EPA to Honor Four Pacific Islands Environmental Heros

Release Date: 4/21/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi (808) 541-2711; or Leo Kay, (415) 947-4306

SAN FRANCISCO During the agency's fifth annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco tomorrow, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri will present plaques to four Pacific Island organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2002.

"These groups and individuals have applied creativity, teamwork and leadership in addressing many of the Pacific's most pressing and complex environmental problems," Nastri said. "Thanks to their efforts, our air, water and land will be cleaner and safer for generations to come. The winners set an example for all of us to follow."

The EPA Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and tribal lands. Forty four groups and individuals were selected from more than 200 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local, state and federal government officials, tribes, environmental organizations and citizen activists.

The winners and basis for recognition are:

Tom Kane, Dr. Robert Esher and Phillip Malloy
Space and Missile Defense Command
U.S. Army, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands

In the last year, Tom Kane, Dr. Robert Esher and Phillip Malloy of the US Army on Kwajalein Atoll have led a remarkable effort to reduce by over 70 percent the amount of waste going to the local landfill through aggressive recycling and reuse. They have even begun mining the exisiting landfill for recyclable material, making Kwajalein the only island in the Pacific whose landfill is shrinking. Their first step was to begin composting wood, cardboard, and paper waste create soil, a valuable commodity in the Marshall Islands. They crush glass to make sand used in local construction projects. Sand previously had to be imported onto the island. Tiny Kwajalein Atoll now recycles more than one million aluminum cans per year. Tires are now shredded tires to use as a fuel supplement, reducing fuel imports. The trio even created "Bicycle Heaven", where people can leave their old rusted bike in "heaven" and get a free refurbished bike made of cannibalized parts from derelict bikes. The remarkable outcome of Kane's, Esher's and Malloy's leadership is that the Kwajalein landfill is getting smaller day by day. They have revolutionized the concept of waste, turning it into precious resources for their own island and for export
to nearby islands.

Photo of Pigs in Paradise award recipientPigs in Paradise
Jim Wimberly and Glen Fukumoto
American Samoa
American Samoa comprises only 76 square miles. Within this same area, there are 33,000 pigs (and 60,000 people). Responding to manure management concerns, a multi-agency initiative funded by USDA-NRCS launched a new project "Pursuing Effective Pig Manure Management and Utilization in American Samoa". Project activities included technical assistance, information dissemination, and deployment of appropriate technologies. Project results are beginning an important shift towards beneficial use of nutrients while reducing the potential for adverse environmental and human health impacts from piggery operations. Program accomplishments are shared through, and are educational resources for other piggeries throughout the Pacific. The Pigs in Paradise work is an important step in developing effective practices for village piggeries that can sustain cultural richness while protecting the environment. Wimberly is president of the Foundation for Organic Resources Management and Fukumoto is the Agricultural Extension Agent for the University of Hawaii/Big Island.

Will Sword and Nicholas King
American Samoa

Will Sword and Nicholas King deserve recognition for their exemplary efforts on behalf of British Petroleum South-West Pacific Limited, in coordinating underground storage tank compliance at service stations on Tutuila, American Samoa. Even though their employer did not own or operate any of these facilities, Will and Nick volunteered to organize a consortium of owners and operators to cost-effectively address compliance activities on an island wide basis. Their work, providing a wide range of valuable services to the facilities, was coordinated with American Samoa EPA and Region IX, and was a critical factor in rapidly correcting the violations found at so many facilities, many of which were mom and pop service stations who would have had trouble complying with the regulations. As a result, all known operating facilities in American Samoa have upgraded to the required standards. Will and Nick's efforts are an outstanding example of individuals making a difference. Their works also led to a partnership between private companies and government regulators and most importantly, to long- term benefits for the environment.

Haidee V. Eugenio, Marianas Variety
Saipan, CNMI

Haidee Eugenio has spent years producing consistent, extensive, fearless and unbiased news coverage focusing on the causes, resolutions and preventions of environmental issues -- including the contamination of soil, groundwater, drinking water, seawater and air -- along with their effects to human health and safety. Her reports have helped not only the regulatory agencies, but also the residents, interest groups, lawmakers and top government officials in making informed decisions to participate in finding solutions to environmental problems like: PCB and lead contamination; non-permitted major stationary sources of air emissions, reckless dumping of used oil; improper disposal of used batteries and
garbage; construction projects affecting the environment; and flooding, beach erosion and drinking water reports that do not reach the end-users. Eugenio's dedication and commitment in protecting human health and the environment through journalism have earned her the trust and confidence of island residents and others throughout the Pacific.