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Ref: American and Mexican cities sign emergency response coop agreements

AP


Local American and Mexican officials sign disaster plan


© 2007 The Associated Press

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EL PASO, Texas — Representatives from neighboring cities at the junction of Mexico, Texas and New Mexico have signed an agreement to share resources during environmental emergencies.

Officials from El Paso, Sunland Park, N.M., and Juarez, Mexico, signed the plan Monday. It arranges for cross-border responses by police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders to major chemical spills, fires and other emergencies that threaten communities on both sides of the border.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its the 14th agreement of its kind between neighboring American and Mexican cities.

"It's really important for us to take stock of the fact that from California all the way to Texas, we've established these sister city agreements," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said.

El Paso Mayor John Cook said he got an emergency call from Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia during flooding last August when the Mexican city needed pumper trucks to remove water from behind a dam that was near breaking.

"It's great that Mayor Murguia and I have this personal relationship, but we have to institutionalize the relationships between the two communities and three communities," Cook said. "That's what this is really all about today: institutionalizing what is already in existence."

Also present at the ceremony were Juarez Acting Mayor Roberto Severiano and Sunland Park Mayor Ruben Segura.

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