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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (September 8, 2000 – Saipan Tribune/Abridged)---Health specialists in the Pacific will hold a conference on Tinian to discuss environmental issues confronting the region, according to Public Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez.

Almost 100 delegates are expected to attend the conference, sponsored by the Pacific Island Health Officers Association, which is headed by Mr. Villagomez. The executive session will be conducted Sept. 27 - 28.

Among the issues to be discussed are radiation exposure in the Marshall Islands, chemical contamination in Palau, and polychlorinated biphenyl contamination in Tanapag village in Saipan and in Hawai‘i.

Included in the list of conference attendees so far are representatives of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Hawai‘i, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The meeting also will be attended by representatives from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In the CNMI, government officials are faced with the serious health and environmental problem of PCB contamination in Tanapag, a northern coastal village in Saipan. Cleanup of the cemetery is now being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractor, the Environmental Chemical Corp.

The South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) has listed the Republic of Palau as one of the island governments that has been found with chemical stockpiles deposited in more than 50 sites.

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

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