Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:
The Submitters allege that Mexico has failed to effectively enforce its environmental law in connection with an abandoned lead smelter in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, that poses serious threats to the health of the neighboring community, and to the environment. The submitters assert that New Frontier Trading Corporation, through its subsidiary Metales y Derivados, failed to repatriate to the United States the hazardous waste it generated, as required under Mexican law and the La Paz Agreement. The submitters allege that “the owner and operators abandoned the company upon its closure and returned to the United States, leaving behind an estimated 6,000 metric tons of lead slag, waste piles of by-products (mainly broken battery cases made of polypropylene, battery internal components made of polyvinyl chloride and metal scrap), sulfuric acid, and heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium and copper from the battery recycling operations”.
The submission alleges that Mexico “has failed to effectively enforce its environmental laws by its inability or unwillingness to continue the criminal proceedings [initiated] against [the owner] by means of formal extradition.” It further alleges that Mexico “failed to effectively enforce Article 170 of the General Law by not taking appropriate measures to either contain or neutralize the hazardous waste generated by Metales y Derivados in order to prevent an imminent risk of harm to the environment and to public health.” and that it has failed to enforce “article 134 of the General Law because it has not taken appropriate actions to control or prevent soil contamination in and near the Metales y Derivados site.”
In addition to the allegations under article 14 and 15 of the NAAEC, the Submitters request that the Secretariat prepare a report under article 13 of the NAAEC. They argue that the case “. merits a report by the Secretariat because it falls under two principal strategic programs of the 1996 Annual Program. One program is aimed at protecting human health and the environment and the other focuses on enforcement cooperation.”
Summary of the response provided by the Party:
The Party states that it shares the Submitters’ concerns as to the grave situation existing at the Metales y Derivados site, and that the Mexican authorities have engaged in a series of ongoing actions to find a solution to this environmental problem, even though it has not been possible so far to remedy the problem. The response describes the actions taken by the Government of Mexico in regard to the activities of the company and the abandoned site, including the initiation of a criminal prosecution against the owners of the company for environmental crimes, various inspection visits, the ordering of technical measures, several temporary shutdown orders and a permanent shutdown.
Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:
General Law on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (General Law) Articles 170 and 134, Penal Code Article 415, Law on International Extradition Article 3 and the Extradition Treaty Between the United States of America and the United Mexican States Articles 1 and 2.
Environmental Health Coalition
Comité Ciudadano Pro Restauración del Cañón del Padre y Servicios Comunitarios, A.C.
The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.
Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 30/10/1998
Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 23/10/1998
The Secretariat began reviewing the submission under Article 14(1)
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(2) authored by Secretariat on 05/03/1999
The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.
Acknowledgement - authored by Secretariat on 14/06/1999
Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by Mexico on 31/05/1999
The Secretariat informed Council that the Secretariat considers that the submission warrants development of a factual record.
Recommendation - Secretariat Notification to Council under Article 15(1) authored by Secretariat on 06/03/2000
The Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to develop a Factual Record.
Resolution - Council decision concerning the development of a Factual Record authored by Council on 16/05/2000
The Secretariat placed a work plan on its web site or otherwise made it available to the public and stakeholders.
Workplan - Overall workplan for Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 30/05/2000
The Secretariat posted a request for information relevant to the factual record on its web site.
Secretariat Information Request - Document related to the preparation of a Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 01/06/2000
The Secretariat submitted a draft factual record to Council, for a 45-day comment period on the accuracy of the draft.
The Secretariat received comments from Canada.
The Secretariat received comments from the United States.
The Secretariat submitted a final factual record to Council for Council's vote on whether to make the final factual record publicly available.
Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to make the final factual record publicly available.
Resolution - Council decision on whether the factual record will be made publicly available authored by Council on 07/02/2002