SAIPAN: IT’S A CLOUD. IT’S A MIST. NO, IT’S TREATED PCB-LACED SOIL DUST IN TANAPAG

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SAIPAN: IT’S A CLOUD. IT’S A MIST. NO, IT’S TREATED PCB-LACED SOIL DUST IN TANAPAG

By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (January 21, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---Huge clouds of dust that appear like gray smoke billowing from the machine being used to treat the PCB-laced soil in Tanapag continue to plague residents in the area, despite an earlier promise by the machine’s operator to resolve the problem.

Concerns were expressed as the proof of performance test that was supposed to be conducted on the treated soil was postponed anew due to maintenance problems.

Project engineer Allen Beaudin said they decided to postpone the scheduled proof of performance test for the indirect thermal desorption treated soil because of a broken hose on the machine.

While the ITD unit was being operated, the Saipan Tribune observed during a visit at the treatment site Saturday afternoon that the machine occasionally emitted dust clouds that obscured the view.

The proof of performance (POP) test was originally postponed to January 19—last Saturday—but Charles Adams, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project manager, said then that it would be started the following day, Sunday.

When the Saipan Tribune visited the site yesterday afternoon, the machine was not operating, and the scheduled POP test was not conducted due to the broken hose.

"A piece of hose broke," said Beaudin, who added that the machine needed maintenance work.

Beaudin said the test would be started today, or if not, by Tuesday.

The POP test consists of three rounds of testing to check the air emission by the ITD unit, besides determining the machine's efficiency in treating the contaminated soil of cancer-causing PCBs that were originally brought to the island in equipment used by U.S. military units.

Adams also admitted that the dust emission remains a "continuing problem," but gave assurances that measures are being undertaken to address this.

"We have some more equipment coming in to work on dust again," Adams said. "They're going to build a building over there on the side to catch the dust as soon as the POP test is over," he said, indicating a point a few feet away from the treated soil's discharge point.

The structure, he said, is made of pre-fabricated metal that will be installed as a fence to prevent the dust from being blown outside the treatment site’s premises.

But Adams said there is no definite schedule yet as to when the structure would be put up, since the materials will come from the mainland United States.

He also said additional atomizers would be installed in order to make the soil more soluble in water.

"This is just kind of warming up the machine. The machine has to run for 24 hours before they can run the POP test," he said of the machine's operation last Saturday.

DEQ acting director Antonio I. DeLeon Guerrero had vowed to monitor the dust emission of the machine once it resumes operations.

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

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