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U. S. EPA and U.S. Customs Service Sign Agreement to Share Information on Hazardous Waste, Chemical, Pesticide Imports

Release Date: 01/15/2003
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Contacts: 202-564-7873, 202-927-2228 Info:

Agreement Supports Homeland Security, Environmental Enforcement Efforts
      (01/15/03) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Customs Service today signed a broad
memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which the two agencies agree to share information related to the import of products regulated by a number of environmental laws. The MOU will further EPA’s ability to monitor and enforce compliance with federal environmental laws and regulations pertaining to chemical substances, pesticides, hazardous waste, and ozone-depleting chemicals, and and will enhance the nation’s homeland security efforts by increasing intelligence sharing between the two agencies.

“This agreement between EPA and Customs is another example of two federal agencies working together to advance homeland security, and ensure the protection of both human health and the environment within the borders of the United States and globally,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “With this memorandum of understanding, our agencies will be better positioned to respond promptly and effectively to potential environmental risks that could also serve to jeopardize the security of our nation.”

"Since September 11th, Customs has worked to eliminate the stovepipes that have hampered past federal law enforcement efforts," said U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. "Today's agreement between Customs and the EPA represents yet another important step towards achieving the free flow of information that will enhance homeland security."

Operating under the MOU, Customs will provide EPA access in the future to its confidential Automated Commercial System (ACS), which includes information relating to the names and addresses of importers, consignees, shippers, manufacturers, quantity and value of the imported merchandise and wastes, as well as corresponding Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes, which will enable EPA to identify classification data for all merchandise imported into the United States. Customs also will provide EPA with specific information related to, among others, chemical substances, pesticides, hazardous waste, and ozone-depleting chemicals on a routine basis, as well as on an as-needed and emergency basis, and allow EPA to share information with federal, state, foreign and local partners as permitted by law, under strict confidentiality requirements.

In a signing ceremony at Port Newark, New Jersey, Whitman and Bonner affirmed the need to have a process in place for streamlining access to and exchange of information.

EPA’s MOU with the Customs Service is its third such agreement. On Feb. 4, 1987, Customs and EPA entered into an MOU that describes each agency’s responsibilities related to the enforcement of hazardous waste export requirements. A subsequent MOU was signed on March 5, 1996, to further enhance the cooperative relationship between the agencies.