Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:

The submitters allege that Mexico has failed to effectively enforce the country’s environmental legislation, by having authorized the operation of a hazardous waste landfill (CYTRAR) less than six kilometers away from Hermosillo, Sonora.

The submission indicates that under Official Mexican Standard NOM-CPR-004ECOL/1993, the appropriate distance should be at least twenty-five kilometers. The submitters allege that the authorities have announced the landfill would be relocated. The submitters further state that the authorities have suggested that the so-called relocation would simply mean closing the current landfill and building a new one within the territory of Sonora.The waste-illegally deposited less than six kilometers away from the city-would be left abandoned, and the remedy or cleanup required at the contaminated site (a serious health and the environmental hazard) would not be addressed. They further allege that the constitutional government of the United States of Mexico, through the Mexican Department of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP), the State of Sonora and the Municipality of Hermosillo, intends to install a new landfill for hazardous waste within the territory of the State of Sonora without previously consulting the public, thereby violating the right to information and citizen participation provided in the Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection Act (LGEEPA) and entrenched in Section 10 of the Rio Declaration, approved during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.

Summary of the response provided by the Party:

The Party considers that Article 14(2)(c) of the NAAEC requires the Submitter to exhaust all available legal remedies before making a submission on the effective enforcement of environmental law to the Secretariat of the CEC, and argues that in this case the submission will not proceed since the Submitter did not exhaust said remedies. The Party explains that a citizen complaint is not a remedy, and regarding the “recurso de revisión” or appeal for review and the two “amparos” brought forth by the Submitter, which the Party does consider to be remedies, the Party states nevertheless that since these are pending resolution, the Secretariat transgresses Article 14 (2)(c). Mexico’s response contains a section in which it summarizes the background of the landfill referred to by the submission, while it has designated this section of the response as confidential. The Party states that because it was built before NOM-044-ECOL-1993, which establishes the requirements that the Submitter considers infringed upon by the operation of the landfill, went into effect, that norm does not apply to the landfill. Mexico indicates that the construction of the landfill was authorized according to the laws applicable at the time and that those and subsequent authorizations were based on technical appraisals. Additionally, the Party points out that the regulation refers to the selection of sites to be used for waste landfills and not to their operation, and that the minimum distance of 25 kilometers referred to by the Submitter is not an absolute requirement, since the regulation itself allows equivalent measures to be taken or structures to be built if this distance is not maintained. The Party points out that the wastes have not been deposited in the site in an illegal manner and that the remediation of the site would not be congruent with the purpose of a landfill as a site for the final disposal of wastes. Regarding the construction of a new landfill for hazardous waste in the state of Sonora, Mexico indicates that it is not possible to inform the population of its location since this has not yet been determined.

Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:

- Official Mexican Standard NOM-CRP-004-ECOL/1993 (now NOM-055-ECOL-1993), which establishes the requirements for sites intended as controlled landfills for hazardous waste, excluding radioactive materials.
- Section 159 Bis 3 of the Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection Act (LGEEPA).

Submitter(s):

Academia Sonorense de Derechos Humanos, A.C. Lic. Domingo Gutiérrez Mendívil

Submission Timeline

July 23, 1998

The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.

Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 14/07/1998

July 29, 1998

Under guideline 3.10, the Secretariat requested the submitter(s) to correct minor errors of form.

Other Documents - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 29/07/1998

August 11, 1998

The Submitters corrected the minor errors of form.

Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 23/07/1998

August 11, 1998

The Secretariat began reviewing the submission under Article 14(1)

Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 24/08/1998

April 9, 1999

The Secretariat determined that the submission met the criteria of Article 14(1) and requested a response from the concerned government Party in accordance with Article 14(2).

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) and 14 (2) authored by Secretariat on 09/04/1999

July 5, 1999

The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.

Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by Mexico on 05/07/1999

October 26, 2000

The Secretariat determined not to recommend the preparation of a factual record. Under guideline 9.6, the process was terminated.

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 15 (1) authored by Secretariat on 26/10/2000