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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 21, 2008

DHEC recognized by EPA; wins Environmental Justice Award

COLUMBIA - The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is among 12 winners of its first annual Environmental Justice Achievement Awards during an award ceremony today in Atlanta.

The EPA awards recognize organizations for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues. This award was presented to the Office of the Community Liaison within DHEC's Environmental Quality Control (EQC) office, which was recognized for its work over the past five years to improve public participation in order to achieve environmental protection.

"We are excited and honored by this award and are very pleased to have had the support of Bob King, deputy commissioner for EQC, who made this effort one of the top priorities for the agency," said Nancy Whittle, community liaison for DHEC's EQC office. "But it is truly EQC's staff members who deserve the most credit for their individual efforts to apply the Public Participation program principles in their day-to-day interactions with those who are most affected by these environmental justice issues - the citizens of South Carolina."

DHEC was selected, according to the EPA release, because, "Among its most notable accomplishments, DHEC convened a Public Participation Task Force and working groups that developed public participation training materials and subsequently offered training to all EQC staff. To further enhance public participation, DHEC added public participation goals to employees performance plans and hired two regional community liaisons. State legislation passed in 2007 mandated the creation of a South Carolina Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. Its first meeting was held in October 2007, and in December 2007 the committee convened its first regional public listening session."

For more information about the Public Participation program at DHEC, call Nancy Whittle at (803) 896-8967 or e-mail whittnc@dhec.sc.gov. For more information about the Environmental Justice Achievement Award Program, including more details about this year's recipients, visit epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice.

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For more information:
Nancy Whittle - (803) 896-8967
E-mail - whittnc@dhec.sc.gov
CBNR1442

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