CNMI AWAITS DISPOSAL OF 177 TONS OF PCBS

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 9) - While
the treatment of over 40,000 tons of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated soil
has been completed, some 177 tons of concentrated PCBs extracted from soil and
other PCB debris remain at the treatment site in Tanapag, Variety learned.

But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said these items will be
shipped out of the CNMI "soon."

All the other concentrated PCBs from Tanapag were shipped to the
U.S. Ecology facility in Beatty, Nevada in July 2002 for proper disposal.

Frank Ono, on-island representative of the Army Corps Honolulu
District, said the concentrated PCBs — also called "filter cake" —
and other debris have been secured in shipping containers at what was once the
treatment site.

This site is being restored by GPPC Inc., the contractor hired
by the Army Corps for a $250,000 contract, according to Vincent Faggioli, chief
legal counsel of the Army Corps Honolulu District.

The four-month restoration work will end in September. It
involves grading the treated soil on site, applying top soil and maintenance of
grass.

Ono said the indirect thermal desorption unit — the machine
used to treat the PCB-laced soil — has already been decontaminated off-island.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the concrete pad
where the ITD unit once stood has also been decontaminated and sampled.

The concrete debris from this pad will be brought to the Marpi
landfill, the EPA said.

Crabs, groundwater

The EPA, in its latest fact sheet about the PCB cleanup in
Tanapag, said a draft report on the groundwater sampling and testing for PCBs is
currently being reviewed and is in the process of being finalized.

"Although the report is not final, it indicates that no
PCBs were detected in any of the groundwater samples collected," the EPA
said.

Sylvester Iguel, representative of the Tanapag Action Group,
said Tanapag residents have not received a copy of the draft report.

"Our comments should be heard and included in the final
report," he said.

The EPA said once the work on-site is completed, it plans to
return to re-sample land crabs.

This sampling will occur at some of the areas where they were
sampled before.

"This sampling will be performed to determine whether the
ban on eating them can be removed. We will keep the community updated on this
effort," the EPA said.

The ban on eating land crabs from Tanapag has been in effect
since Oct. 2000. In July 2001, the Department of Public Health issued a
follow-up advisory.

In Dec. 2000, the EPA again collected close to 100 land crabs
from five different areas in Tanapag.

Public Health said the PCB levels found in the tested land crabs
were very low compared to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s PCB safety
standard for fish and shellfish. Some of the crabs showed no PCB contamination.

The average PCB levels found among the land crabs was 0.02 parts
per million. The FDA considers less than 2.0 ppm of PCB as "safe."

But due to lack of information about PCB and its long-term
effects, the safest way to protect humans is to prohibit the consumption of land
crabs tainted with low levels of PCB, said Public Health.

June 9, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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