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Nishida aids in anthrax cleanup

February 11, 2002

We participate in drills for antiterrorism,” says Jane Nishida ’77, Maryland’s secretary of the environment, “but nothing quite prepared me for an emergency of the magnitude the nation experienced after September 11.”

Nishida’s department was responsible for emergency testing of mail rooms in 38 facilities in the Baltimore and washington, D.C., area—both private and federal—for possible anthrax contamination. Her group also oversaw the safe transport of anthrax-contaminated waste material from the capitol to Fort Detrick in Maryland, a military installation specializing in biological warfare that disposed of the material.

In her position, Nishida has dealt with other emergencies, including a chemical train derailment and oil spills, but the post-September 11 crisis was different. “The state’s antiterrorism training was certainly useful, but you also learn a lot from a real emergency like this, from being in the middle of it.”

Nishida says that her experience at Lewis & Clark and living in the Pacific Northwest gave her a deep appreciation of the environment and how important it is to protect it. Her degree was in international affairs, and after graduation, she went on to receive a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. While her work now focuses on environmental regulation, she is still passionate about international affairs.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is involved in several international exchange programs, including developing an air quality plan in Thailand; retooling industrial sites in Germany; and working with organizations in Japan, Sweden, and Turkey—as well as the state of washington—to protect coastal seas around the globe.

“My Lewis & Clark education has helped give me a greater appreciation of the importance of these international exchanges and partnerships,” Nishida says.

In addition to dealing with environmental emergencies and working on international programs, Nishida is the principal regulator and enforcement agent of environmental law in Maryland. She is responsible for monitoring air and water quality, establishing standards for factories and wastewater treatment plants, working with nuclear and chemical facilities and dam operators to ensure environmental safety, and enforcing mandatory water-use restrictions in drought years.

Nishida feels fortunate that her work encompasses everything she is passionate about. “My goal is to bring my environmental experience to other cultures and to help them protect their environments,” she says. “It’s a passion that has its roots in my experiences at Lewis & Clark.”

 

—by Michelle D. Williams 

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