GREENPEACE JOINS TANAPAG RESIDENTS IN FIGHT AGAINST PCB

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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 3, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior vessel arrived yesterday afternoon in an effort to help residents of Tanapag gain worldwide attention and push U.S. officials to move swiftly in cleaning up the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the village.

The ship, manned by 14 crewmembers from nine countries, came from Okinawa, Japan and is set to leave for Australia on Monday. They were welcomed by Tanapag residents who were happy to have been joined by the international group in their struggle to solve the biggest environmental and health problem confronting the CNMI.

Greenpeace has declared Tanapag a "toxic hot spot" and demanded an immediate cleanup of the village and Cemetery No. 2.

According to Daniel Mares, the vessel’s captain, Greenpeace is committed to raise the issue to international level to pressure the United States to carry out a remediation job efficiently and without further delay.

"I'm sure, if this is dumped in Orange County in the U.S., this would have been cleaned up a year ago. The people of the Marianas need to be treated equally just like the other citizens in the United States," said Mr. Mares.

Production of toxic chemicals as well as its importation from developed nations to less developed countries in the Pacific is very prevalent, he said. "PCB is a global problem and the only way to make people realize that this problem will never go away is to draw their attention to the issue."

Dr. Darryl Luscombe, a technical expert, will share his views on the low temperature thermal desorption process that will be used in treating the PCB contaminated soil.

The Army Corps has awarded a $3.1 million contract to the Environmental Chemical Corp. for the cleanup of Cemetery No. 2 in Tanapag village. ECC has successfully cleaned up the much larger U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in Wallington, New Jersey using the same technology.

Greenpeace believes that whatever technologies will be used to destroy PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants must meet the following basic conditions:

• Destruction efficiencies of effectively 100 percent of the chemicals of concern in any and all residues. This testing must be carried out often to ensure compliance with these conditions during startups, shutdowns and routine operations.

• Complete containment of all residues that may need to be treated again to ensure that no contaminants are left and that there are no other harmful chemicals present such as dioxin.

• No uncontrolled releases. Greenpeace emphasized that destruction of persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs must safeguard both nearby and distant human and wildlife populations from further exposure via direct pathways (such as breathing them in) and indirect pathways (through the food they eat).

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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