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EPA Region 2 Administrator Honors Environmental Achievers in Puerto Rico

Release Date: 04/22/2004
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(#04057) New York, New York In celebration of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator, Jane M. Kenny, will honor nine people and organizations that achieved success in improving the environment in Puerto Rico. Regional Administrator Kenny will present EPA's Environmental Quality Awards and a President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) at a ceremony in EPA's offices in Manhattan tomorrow. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned Director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

"The superior winners we are honoring today are truly environmental trail blazers," said Regional Administrator Kenny. "By taking a leadership role and making local changes, the award recipients demonstrate that we can all have a positive impact on the environment."

EPA selected Environmental Quality Award winners come from non-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, environmental education and business organizations and members of the news media. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside.

The PEYA program promotes the study of environmental science and the development of leadership skills in young people. Students from kindergarten to twelfth grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects are eligible to receive PEYA certificates of commendation signed by the President of the United States. One winner from each of EPA's ten regions is selected to participate in an expense-paid trip to the national award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

La Regata

La Regata, Puerto Rico's free Spanish publication focused on boating and fishing, raises awareness about environmental issues including legislation, international agreements, public health, water quality, oceans, marine life, hazardous materials and toxics. With a distribution of 10,000 copies a month, it reaches a non- traditional audience for environmental information. La Regata's editors emphasize the value and beauty of the island's coastal environment and its biodiversity, and stress the importance of natural resource management. The publication encourages the conservation of fisheries and coral reefs, and the prevention of pollution from boating and fishing operations.

Instituto de Educacion Ambiental

The Instituto de Educacion Ambiental of Metropolitan University in Puerto Rico produces an environmental radio program that informs and educates the people of Puerto Rico about a diverse range of environmental issues. The program is aired on WKVM (810 AM). Its co-hosts, Monse¤ior Efrain Rodriguez and Francisco Javier Saracho Manzanedo, have sensitized people about environmental concerns through the radio program and other outlets. Guests representing environmental agencies and citizen's organizations speak about the importance of natural resources to local communities and share their program activities and goals with listeners.

IPR Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Canovanas Operations

IPR Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IPR), a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, has formed the Pharmaceuticals-in-the- Environment (PIE) initiative. Under this initiative, pharmaceutical companies determine what levels of unregulated pharmaceutical active ingredients in process waste material are acceptable. They do this using analytical models to detect and monitor the materials and come up with treatment processes to reduce their concentration and reduce their impact on the environment.

Palmas Del Mar Properties Inc.

Palmas Del Mar Properties, Inc. demonstrated its commitment to protecting Puerto Rico's natural resources through environmentally-sound operations at its resort facility. Palmas Del Mar built a wastewater treatment facility on its property at which it recycles water and soil nutrients for use in irrigating the resort's two golf courses and vast landscaping. This hybrid system ensures that no wastewater is discharged into a natural body of water and uses sludge to generate fertilizer. Palmas Del Mar also built lakes into which the disinfected effluent is discharged, that double as habitats for local and migratory birds. The compost that is generated through vegetation deposits is used in the gardens.

Escuela de la Comunidad
Agriculture in Harmony with the Environment Project

The Agriculture in Harmony with the Environment project uses a three-acre farm to teach instructors and students to recycle biodegradable materials from their school lunchroom, farm and neighboring communities. Students from 6th to 9th grades are taught sustainable and organic farming practices, such as composting. Throughout the school year, they grow organic vegetables and fruits. The farm also provides a habitat for different species of frogs, snakes, spiders, earthworms and birds.

Puerto Rico Asthma Awareness Project

Two Puerto Rico universities, the University of Puerto Rico and Metropolitan University, the Puerto Rico Department of Health, and Rutgers University in New Jersey have collaborated on outreach, education and intervention to address the increased incidence of asthma on the island of Puerto Rico. Together, they have developed programs that train students, school teachers, officials and individuals to become certified asthma educators. The efforts of these organizations included the translation of the EPA Indoor Air Quality Asthma in Schools manual into Spanish, visits to 100 families to provide assistance identifying asthma triggers in the home, the dissemination of information on how to manage the disease, and public meetings to address common concerns.

Dr. L. Michael Szendrey

Dr. L. Michael Szendrey developed a treatment system for the wastewater that is created during the production of rum for the Bacardi Corporation of Puerto Rico. Szendrey developed Bacardi's first anaerobic digester, which converts methane from the process into fuel that generates steam. The steam, in turn, powers the machinery; steam accounts for seventy-five percent of Bacardi's energy use. In addition, the company sells carbon dioxide created during the process to other companies for use in their soft drinks. The sludge from the process, which is protein-rich, is converted and used as animal-feed. Dr. Szendrey also contributes to the protection of Puerto Rico's environment as a member of the Caribbean Environment and Development Institute's Board of Directors and as a philanthropist.

Dr. Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni

While studying for his doctorate in biological oceanography at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Dr. Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni was among the founders of the Caribbean Stranding Network, an international non- profit conservation organization that conducts research to preserve endangered marine mammals, sea turtles and marine birds found stranded, orphaned, ill or injured. Dr. Mignucci has dedicated himself to the management and conservation of marine mammals. He is an associate professor of oceanography at the Department of Sciences and Technology at Metropolitan University in Puerto Rico, and director of the Caribbean Marine Mammal Laboratory and Caribbean Stranding Network in San Juan.

Arturo Massol-Deya

Arturo Massol-Deya, a founder and director of a community-based environmental education program known as"Instituto Comunitario de Biodiversidad y Cultura (ICBC)," promotes an academic climate in which research- driven educational activities are conducted interactively. Areas of focus are the Bosque del Pueblo State Forest and the upper basin of R¡o Grande de Arecibo. Through the ICBC, students participated in the development of an environmental conservation plan for Adjuntas, which includes a biological corridor surrounding an urban area, special protection of watersheds, and the protection of important landscapes. Dr. Massol collaborates with faculty from the University of Idaho, Michigan State University, ORNL and the University of Washington on teaching these interactive courses to improve environmental knowledge.