US/Mexico Border Inspection and Education Program


The Hazardous Materials Division (HMD) of the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) is the only Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) in California that has a contract with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for the surveillance and inspection of commercial vehicles along the United States-Mexico International Border.  In addition to the inspection of transporters of  hazardous materials and hazardous waste, the HMD works closely with state and federal agencies in the United Sates and Mexico in the investigation of environmental crimes along the International Border and provides workshops to the private and public sector in Mexico.


 Border Inspections

The contract with DTSC started in 1992. At that time, a pilot program was created DTSC and DEH to address concerns about hazardous waste generated in the United States being transported to Mexico for illegal disposal. The goal of the pilot program was to conduct surprise inspections of transporters at different locations throughout the San Diego County. During the six months that the pilot program was conducted, inspections were done at the port of entry of San Ysidro as well as the Border Patrol check points in San Onofre, Rainbow and North County. 


The pilot program started  the current Border Program, which has been very successful and has fostered the coordination of numerous governmental agencies on both sides of the border over the last years. Currently, both Northbound and Southbound inspections of hazardous materials/waste transporters are made at the U.S. Customs' ports of entry in Otay Mesa.


 Bi-National Environmental Task Force

The HMD works closely with state and federal agencies from both sides of the International Border.  Every three months HMD meets with the California Border Environmental Task Force, formed by local, state and federal representatives, to discuss current border issues in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In addition, the California Border Environmental Task Force meets with representatives of the Baja California Subgroup to discuss Enforcement, Hazardous and Solid waste issues.


 Border Training
The HMD has provided workshops on hazardous waste hauler requirements,  basic hazardous materials recognition and emergency chemical spill response procedures, import and export requirements, health risks for specific hazardous materials, and how to spot illegal hazardous materials/waste loads.