CNMI CEMETERY CLOSED BECAUSE OF PCB LEAKAGES

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CEMETERY CLOSED BECAUSE OF PCB LEAKAGES

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 30, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A cemetery on Saipan has been closed because cancer-causing chemicals were found in the area.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Kevin McQuillan reports that the chemicals -- known as PCBs -- were contained in capacitors left by the U.S. military in the 1960s.

"The Northern Marianas government was only told about the capacitors in 1988, and removed them then to allow a clean-up to begin.

"Environmental officials say that despite the use of various technologies over the past 11 years, PCB contaminants still remain in some Saipan areas, particularly the Lower Base cemetery at Tanapag village.

"Officials say there is concern about a number of deaths from uncommon causes, such as cancer, in communities near the cemetery.

"Governor Pedro Tenorio has now appealed to residents not to go to the cemetery. He has warned locals that they face health dangers there.

"Environmental officials say they don't expect the PCBS to be eliminated for many months.

"Kevin McQuillan, Radio Australia."

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