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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Mar. 29) - A lawmaker says the Northern Marianas is in danger of becoming a dumping ground for used tires from China, Taiwan and even Japan, which could potentially cause environmental problems.

Rep. Ray Yumul, Ind.-Saipan, said House Bill 15-34, which he authored along with seven other lawmakers seeks to control the entry of more used tires to the islands given the CNMI’s small size.

"Tires brought for individual use will not be affected. We are basically after those individuals or corporations that want to import used tires by the container. We are saying that we are not a dumping ground," said Yumul in an interview yesterday.

The bill was passed by the House during Monday’s session. It now goes to the Senate for action.

The measure would prohibit the importation and sale of used tires in the commonwealth.

"The purpose of this bill is to slow down their entry to make more manageable our own tire disposal. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with our own tires, which become unusable. We don’t need to deal with used tires that could become unusable later and cause potential environmental and health problems," said Yumul.

He said insects like mosquitoes breed in used tires during the rainy season and could eventually be a source of disease.

He added that the cost of shipping out used tires is also high.

"It costs up to US$15,000 to ship a container of tires and we don’t even know if the end destination will accept them," he said.

There are exemptions including tires used for agricultural motor vehicles; tires on imported vehicles; tires with a U.S. Department of Transportation identification number; retread tires, which have a used casing, new tread number and a DOT code on the sidewall indicating where and when it was retreaded.

The bill proposes to impose a penalty of US$5,000 per day per violation on the importers of the prohibited used tires.

Yumul said reports have reached his office that thousands of used tires are being shipped to the islands .

He believes that some of them were intended for an unknown final destination but for some reason got stuck on Saipan.

Some of those used tires are believed to be in the Marpi landfill.

March 30, 2006

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