UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460 THE ADMINISTRATOR June 6, 1982Mr. Bruce W. Johnson
Chairman and President
Chem Nuclear Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 1866
Bellevue, Washington 98009
Dear Mr. Johnson:
Thank you for your letter expressing concern about how publicly expressed views by Mr. William J. Sanjour, a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, could negatively affect joint American-Canadian efforts to reach a certain environmental agreement. Specifically, you referred to preparation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Canada on the manner of handling hazardous wastes based on U.S. regulations covering such wastes.
Your concerns are understood. You also provided a news story from the March 17 issue of the Edmonton (Alberta) Journal, which reported on Mr. Sanjour's remarks at a public meeting in Alberta held to discuss the plans of that Canadian province to establish a hazardous waste treatment plant.
That incident has been investigated by EPA, and I can confirm that Mr. Sanjour was not on official Agency business at the time be was absent from his duties here at EPA Headquarters to make the trip to Alberta; that he was on official annual leave during that period; and, that he paid his own travel expenses. Mr. Sanjour's superiors knew in advance of his plans to make the trip to Alberta, and they cautioned him before he left not to represent himself as an EPA official or associate his views with the Agency. Unfortunately, the reporter identified Mr. Sanjour as being with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency---communicating that fact to the paper's Canadian (and other) readers, with resulting unpropitious interpretations because the news story did not also state that the views Mr. Sanjour expressed were simply his own.
I am aware that incidents of this nature are not helpful in maintaining the best relations between our country and Canada, and are not useful in expediting the construction of hazardous waste treatment facilities here in the United States or in Canada. However, we are limited--like all Government agencies--in what we can do in cases of this type without violating an employee's rights when he or she is traveling in a private capacity.
I can assure you that this incident has been the subject of communications between EPA and the appropriate officials of the U.S. Department of State--in order to help offset, or at least minimize, any negative impact on discussions between our two countries on environmental issues.
I certainly appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me on this matter.
Anne M. Gorsuch
William Sanjour's home page