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By Cherrie A. E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 26) – Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Governor Benigno R. Fitial is exploring the possibility of entering into a contract with a Manila-based waste management system that wants to clean up the former Puerto Rico dump.

Fitial said he finds Zero Waste Corp.’s Palingenesis Manufacturing Inc.’s process "interesting."

"That waste management system from the Philippines — we’re looking into that. I’ve seen their plant in Muntinlupa (in Metro, Manila). It’s awesome. I’ve never seen anything like that before," Fitial said during his press conference on Friday.

However, the governor noted that the project is "somewhat expensive."

"The only problem is that the machinery that they are using is expensive," he said. "They have four different (types of) machinery for solid waste disposal. Each (piece of) machinery costs about US$2 million, so that’s a capital problem for us," he said.

But, he added, "It’s still cheap because they are servicing a municipality in the Philippines. If the municipality can afford it, it’s cheap."

According to the corporate information provided by the local representative of Palingenesis Manufacturing Inc., the system they use is a low temperature waste conversion technology which operates through various stages of physical transformation coupled with a number of chemical, biochemical and electro-chemical reactions and mechanisms.

The process is "designed to neutralize, break apart, rearrange or restructure and convert the incoming waste materials, regardless of their basic form and chemical composition."

The system is "capable of converting toxic or non-toxic solid and liquid wastes into useful construction materials such as concrete blocks and agricultural materials such as fertilizers."

Bob Emmett, the general manager of Zero Waste Corp., Palingenesis’ local representative, said that the project will also provide another industry that will create jobs for the island.

According to Emmett, the palingenesis process is "one that will extend the life of the present landfill for decades and decades to come if not permanently. It is a more surgical method of dealing with the Puerto Rico dump because it is less expensive than the blanketing of the dump. "

The palingenesis process, Emmett said, can clean up the site approximately five times faster than the present system.

The suggested system would bring an end to the leaching of the pollutants into the lagoons much faster and permanently, he said.

Emmett said this would also make the reclamation of the site a suitable revenue generating location much sooner than the blanket approach.

[PIR editor’s note: In December 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged for immediate closure of the Puerto Rico dump site due to leachate that pollute the Islands’ waters (read the story).]

January 26, 2006

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