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Service Staff Given EPA Award

Date Posted: August 30, 1999

Service contaminants biologist Pedro Ramirez and Service Special Agent Gary Mowad were awarded the Gold Medal for Environmental Achievement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ramirez and Mowad are the first non-EPA recipients of the medal, which is the agency's highest environmental award. Mowad and Ramirez won the award as part of a joint Service/EPA Problem Oil Pits (POP) team tackling the issue of eagles, hawks, owls, and other birds trapped in thousands of oil pits. In an attempt to curb bird entrapment in oil field waste pits, the Service's Mountain Prairie Region and EPA Region 8 joined forces in 1996 to form the POP team. The team includes experts on oil toxicity to birds and other wildlife, oil spill cleanup, prevention control and countermeasures, outreach, water quality, and environmental law. By 1998, the POPs team had identified more than 1,140 sites threatening wildlife and surface and groundwater quality. In Wyoming alone, the team discovered more than 200 violations of environmental laws, leading to the Service's prosecution of 341 violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and collection of almost $150,000 in fines, as well as legal action by EPA and State agencies at 36 sites. Ramirez and Mowad, along with the other POP team members, were honored at an awards ceremony April 12, 1999, at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The team's work is now being used as a model for similar efforts by the Service and EPA in other parts of the country.

Contacts:

Pedro Ramirez (307)772-2374

Links:

Fatal Attraction: Oil Field Waste Pits (Endangered Species Bulletin article January/February 1999)

Last updated: February 13, 2013