NEVADA OPPOSES SHIPMENT OF PCB SOIL FROM NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

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By Ulysses Torres Sabuco and Haidee V. Eugenio Variety News Staff

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 16, 2002 – Marianas Variety)---Nevada is strongly opposed to the shipment of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated soil from Saipan, which is due to arrive today on the West Coast, Gov. Juan N. Babauta said yesterday.

John McCarroll, manager of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific-insular area program based in San Francisco, California, informed Babauta over the weekend that the containers of PCB soil were due to arrive at one of the several sites in Nevada designated for storage.

"The containers are due to arrive Monday (which) is Tuesday in Nevada. But it appears that the governor of Nevada is a little disturbed about it," Babauta said.

He said according to McCarroll, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn is opposed to the recent decision of the U.S. Congress to designate the state as a depository of contaminants.

Guinn "has just found out that the containers are headed toward his state without due notice from either EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers," Babauta said.

"He is not only upset about the U.S. Congress designating Nevada as a depository, he is also upset that contaminants are already coming in without due notice," Babauta said.

"I can sympathize with him because we are dealing with the same situation here. In our case, a village was contaminated and the U.S. government has to take responsibility for it," Babauta said.

But Frank Ono, the Army Corps of Engineers representative on Saipan, said, "There have been no communications from any federal agency as of Monday afternoon that the PCB filter cake shipments were rejected."

He said there were five containers of PCB filter cake shipped to Nevada.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ contractor, Environmental Chemical Corp., subcontracted U.S. Ecology, which operates the designated landfill in Nevada, Ono said.

He said as of late last week, ECC and U.S. Ecology encountered no problems regarding the shipment and the expected arrival of the PCB soil in Nevada.

In 1995, the Army Corps of Engineers sent 550 tons of untreated PCB-contaminated soil to the U.S., he said. The contaminants, he added, were not rejected.

Babauta said if the PCB soil is not unloaded in Nevada, the U.S. government has to decide where it is going to end up.

"I certainly would not want to have the container returned to the CNMI. I will personally be at the dock to block it," the governor said.

In a separate interview, Juan I. Tenorio of the Tanapag Action Group said the Nevada state government should direct its opposition to the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA.

Tenorio said the Tanapag Action Group opposes the return of the PCB-soil to the CNMI.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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