Friday, March 25, 2011

Jim Willis - EPA Chemical Control Division Director - Leaving for UNEP

The director of the EPA's chemical control division, Jim Willis, has tendered his resignation from the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT).  He will become the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions under the United Nations Environment Program.  He will be based in Geneva, Switzerland.

I have discussed these international conventions in previous articles. The Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions deal with reduction or elimination of specific listed chemicals that are considered to be hazardous and persistent in the environment. The Basel Convention is designed to control hazardous waste disposal.  Since they primarily deal with PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic) chemicals, especially those that may be transported long distances, the role seems perfect for Willis and his experience at EPA.  Ironically, while the US signed the treaties Congress has never ratified them.  That means we can offer our views but must sit by without a vote.

According to the letter sent to EPA staff by Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, Director of OPPT"
"Jim will be responsible for managing the secretariats for the three treaties, which together encompass the global legal regime for the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes...Jim's accomplishments at EPA are many and he will be greatly missed."

Cleland-Hamnett also noted that Maria Doa will take over Willis' position as Director of the Chemical Control Division at EPA.  Tala Henry will be acting director of the National Program Chemicals Division (Doa's current job) and Brian Symmes will return to his position as the Deputy in that group.

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