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PREPA Signs $1 Million Contract with UPR Graduate School of Public Health to Monitor Compliance with EPA Consent Decree
Release Date: 07/17/2001
|(#01078) San Juan, Puerto Rico – Communities near Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) power plants can breathe a little easier today. PREPA has hired a contractor, selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and representatives from the Salinas, Guayanillas, Cataño and Guaynabo communities, to monitor its compliance with federal environmental laws. PREPA is required by a 1999 Consent Decree with EPA to spend at least one million dollars to hire a contractor to track its compliance with the requirements in the decree for a period of least five years. The contract was awarded to the University of Puerto Rico. The University’s involvement will compliment EPA’s concentrated efforts to inspect PREPA’s plants and enforce the requirements of the Consent Decree. Though the University of Puerto Rico will be paid using PREPA funds, it will report directly to the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division in San Juan.
"EPA has been frequently inspecting PREPA facilities, and we continue to seek compliance and payment of penalties where we find problems," said William J. Muszynski, P.E., Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "The University of Puerto Rico will enhance these efforts by helping us keep the community informed and giving us even more information about the status of PREPA’s effort to comply."
In March 1999, a Consent Decree between PREPA and the United States was entered in federal court, settling a lawsuit that had been filed against PREPA in 1993. The Decree requires PREPA to take both long and short-term actions to comply with all federal environmental laws. In addition, PREPA is required to undertake a number of environmental projects at a total cost of more than $3.5 million. Among these projects is the hiring of an Environmental Review Contractor (ERC).
The ERC contract will be managed by José A. Norat Ramírez, Ph.D., J.D., a Professor in the Environmental Health Department of the University’s Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Norat will be assisted by Environmental Technology Group, Inc, a consulting firm that provides services to clients in the U.S. and Latin America, in science, engineering and all sectors of environmental engineering. Dr. Norat has assembled a distinguished team of university professors, researchers, engineers, environmental managers and consultants, and graduate students who will perform the functions required under the Consent Decree.
As the ERC, the University of Puerto Rico will work with communities near PREPA plants to assist them in maintaining up-to-date information about PREPA's compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree agreed to by PREPA and EPA. The University will carry out research of PREPA documents, data and reports; conduct on-site inspections of PREPA facilities; bring EPA, PREPA and citizens together at least once every two months to discuss PREPA’s compliance with the Consent Decree; and convey community concerns to PREPA and EPA relating to PREPA’s compliance.
EPA continues to rigorously enforce the terms of the Consent Decree, approved by the Federal Court more than two years ago. EPA inspectors have conducted hundreds of inspections at the PREPA plants. PREPA continues to report and EPA continues to document serious violations. Since the Consent Decree became final two years ago, PREPA has paid more than $650,000 in stipulated penalties for violating various provisions of the settlement.