CEC Council votes for publication of a factual record concerning the Hermosillo II submission

Montreal, 20 March 2014—On 11 March 2014, the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) agreed, in factual record concerning submission SEM-05-003 (Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo II), filed with the Secretariat on 30 August 2005, by Academia Sonorense de Derechos Humanos, A.C., and Domingo Gutiérrez Mendívil (the “Submitters”).

On 27 November 2013, the CEC Secretariat delivered to the Council a final factual record, in accordance with Article 15(6) of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation(NAAEC), regarding the submitters’ assertions that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce prevention, monitoring, oversight and air pollution control provisions of various Mexican environmental laws in the city of Hermosillo, Mexico.

The factual record provides information on the air quality monitoring network in Hermosillo, which consists of four manual monitoring stations and one automatic station. According to information provided by Mexico, air quality monitoring equipment has been added in order to enable further activities in Hermosillo, but its operation has been occasionally interrupted due to lack of resources and training. Also, according to Mexico, the monitoring program in Hermosillo is experiencing technical and financial difficulties, which are in addition to the administrative changes affecting the personnel that operate the manual network. Mexico also provided information that, since early 2012, the State Air Quality Information and Infrastructure Network (Red Estatal de Información e Infraestructura de la Calidad del Aire) has not had monitoring data from Hermosillo because of operational difficulties.

Concerning air quality monitoring, during the period from April to September 2011, carbon monoxide monitoring was not covered. During this period, air monitoring was not conducted over 60 days for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5); 55 days for particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers (PM10); and 54 days for sulfur dioxide monitoring. No data concerning particulates were reported over nearly half of this period. Of 915 events reported by the Ecology and Sustainable Development Commission of the state of Sonora (Comisión de Ecología y Desarrollo Sustentable del Estado de Sonora), insufficient data were provided for 389 events. Data collected by the automatic station reported that on one day the Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM2.5 was between 151 and 200—a level at which all persons begin to experience adverse health effects and persons belonging to sensitive groups experience more serious health effects—while in four cases an AQI range of 101-150 for PM2.5 was detected—values sufficiently high that persons belonging to sensitive groups may experience health effects.

The Secretariat administers the process set out in NAAEC Articles 14 and 15, which allows the public to make a submission asserting that a NAAEC Party (Canada, Mexico, or the US) is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law. The CEC has published Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters explaining the process.

The purpose of a factual record is to provide an objective presentation of the facts relevant to the assertion(s) set forth in a submission under NAAEC Article 14, and to allow readers to draw their own conclusions regarding a Party’s environmental law enforcement. Although a factual record is not to contain conclusions or recommendations, it is expected to outline the history of the environmental enforcement issue raised in the submission, the relevant legal obligations of the Party, and the actions of the Party in attempting to fulfill those obligations.