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Emergency Response Policy Forum
The 1985 Annex II of the La Paz Agreement establishes cooperative measures for preparing and responding to oil and hazardous substance incidents along the Mexico-United States (U.S.) inland border. The agreement also requires a Joint Contingency Plan (JCP) which was developed in 1988 and signed in 1999. An updated version was finalized and signed in 2008. The Mexico-U.S. JCP has provided the foundation for the 15 Sister Cities Bi-national Emergency Response Plans that have been developed over the last several years. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Policy Fora is co-chaired by U.S. EPA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Mexico’s Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (PROFEPA), and Secretaria de Gobernación, Coordinación General de Protección Civil (Mexico’s Office of Civil Protection).
The Joint Response Team (JRT), another La Paz Agreement requirement, is also co-chaired by Mexico’s PROFEPA, Protección Civil, and U.S. EPA’s OEM. Additional JRT partners include representatives from other U.S. and Mexican federal agencies, including state, Tribal and local offices responsible for emergency prevention, preparedness, and response in the border region. The workgroup essentially functions as the steering committee of the Joint Response Team (JRT). The work of the JRT is supported by a notification system for the binational reporting of emergency response incidents, drills, and threats; local Emergency Response Plans developed jointly by sister cities along the border; certified training courses; and analyses of potential risks in the border region.
Both countries have increased coordination with their federal, state and local partners and thanks to this collaboration many of the millions of residents within the border region will benefit from improved training, state-of-the-art equipment, and enhanced emergency response capabilities for both countries. These actions fulfill numerous U.S. and Mexican objectives, the U.S./Mexico Border 2012 Goal 4 to “Enhance Joint Readiness for Environmental Response.” In addition, EPA, PROFEPA and Protección Civil agreed to jointly enhance border notification and agency communication protocols to expand participation of all stakeholders in the Policy Fora and Task Forces.
Objective 1: Update as necessary, the current Mexico-US Joint Contingency Plan and on an annual basis, continue to evaluate and update the emergency notification mechanism between Mexico and the United States.
Objective 2: By 2020, at least eight (8) of the sister city joint contingency plans will be supplemented with preparedness and prevention related activities such as certified training, risk analysis, and/or capacity building.
Objective 3: By 2016, the US-Mexico JRT will make available technical outreach and training materials for distribution and dissemination along the border.
Objective 4: By 2016, the US-Mexico JRT will analyze existing agreements (including sister city plans) that allow trans-boundary movement of equipment and personnel for comparison purposes.