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EPA Orders Puerto Rico Police Department to Improve Handling and Disposal of Confiscated Fireworks

Release Date: 11/23/2009
Contact Information: John Senn (212) 637-3667, or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869,

(New York, N.Y.) In an effort to enhance public safety and protect the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to improve the way the Puerto Rico Police Department manages confiscated fireworks and other pyrotechnics after an inspection revealed violations at five police department facilities. The department must develop and implement a plan so its facilities comply with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (RCRA) requirements for the management of certain types of explosives and pyrotechnics.

“EPA supports the Puerto Rico Police Department’s effort to keep its citizens safe by confiscating illegal fireworks and other pyrotechnics,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “By complying with federal hazardous waste management laws, the department will have taken a big step to ensure that these materials no longer pose a threat to public safety once they’ve been taken off the street.”

At the time of an EPA inspection in 2005, the Puerto Rico Police Department had confiscated more than 100,000 pounds of pyrotechnics and was storing them in tractor trailers at its facilities in Isla de Cabras, Rio Piedras, Humacao, Aguadilla and Mayaguez. Storage facilities were near public areas, the storage trailers and containers had deteriorated and lacked proper labels, and the facilities lacked emergency response equipment, fire suppression systems and other equipment needed for compliance with hazardous waste management laws.

In 2005, EPA issued to the Puerto Rico Police Department a notice of violation regarding the facilities handling of the confiscated materials. By the end of 2007, the department had shipped all confiscated materials to an authorized disposal facility in Louisiana.

EPA's order gives the Puerto Rico Police Department 90 days to develop and submit a plan for the future handling of confiscated pyrotechnics. The order requires that these materials be handled in compliance with RCRA in a safe and timely manner. EPA held a public comment period for the order, which ended on Sept. 8, 2009, and a public meeting in Toa Baja on Sept. 1.

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