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U.S., Mexico Sign Pact on Shipping of Toxic Wastes

November 13, 1986|MAURA DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Mexican governments signed a bilateral agreement Wednesday requiring the United States to obtain consent from the Mexican government before shipping hazardous wastes across the border.

The agreement, sought by Mexico, also requires the United States to accept return of hazardous materials that have been transported improperly by U.S. citizens across the border, said Fitzhugh Green, associate administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

"It's up to us to make certain that American companies behave themselves," Green said.

However, the pact will not force the United States to clean up water supplies that may have been contaminated by U.S. wastes dumped in Mexico.

Illegal dumping of U.S. wastes in Mexico is believed to have increased because of new, tougher U.S. restrictions on domestic disposal. The Mexican government has been under increasing pressure from its citizens to halt the flow of deadly garbage across the border since the discovery of an illegal dump containing U.S. wastes in the border town of Tecate this year.

"We think this is a significant step forward to make sure we don't have the kind of problems we have had in the past," EPA Administrator Lee Thomas said after signing the agreement with Manuel Camacho Solis, Mexico's secretary of urban development and ecology.

The agreement will require exporters of hazardous waste to obtain written consent from the Mexican government before shipment. Previously, firms wishing to export toxic wastes had only to notify the EPA of the shipment and identify the waste and the name and address of receivers in Mexico.

The United States also will be required to notify Mexico of shipments of pesticides or industrial chemicals and to inform the government of their potential dangers.

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