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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 9, 2001 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---The Northern Marianas administration over the past year has been urging the U.S. government to cleanup former U.S. military sites on Saipan that are contaminated with harmful substances.

Cancer-causing PCBs have been uncovered at four abandoned World War II-era military dumpsites on the island.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in the cleanup.

Representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Authority have been meeting in Saipan with officials from the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to assess the progress of the cleanup.

The division’s environmental planner said although more contaminated sites have been located, they need to be thoroughly inspected by U.S. Army Engineers.

The DEQ is currently undergoing phase three of the cleanup project.

The cleanup involves the excavation and removal of PCB-contaminated soil from the villages.

The tainted soil is then transported and stored in a designated area before it is treated or shipped off island.

"The Army Corps is almost near completion," the planner said. "They are going back and looking at three sites that need further excavation."

The cleanup work has not disrupted the community. No evacuation or relocation of villagers has been necessary during the cleanup.

Some of the sites are being assessed for other dangerous substances, such as contaminated fuel and unexploded ordnance.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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