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Oil tanks, fuel contamination removed from Marianas Islands

Release Date: 06/22/2006
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(06/22/06) HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands Division of Environmental Quality just completed the removal of six military above-ground oil storage tanks and associated fuel contamination from Tanapag Village, CNMI.

The agencies finished removing the tanks listed as a high removal priority, based on oil remaining in the tanks and proximity to residences. The six tanks were located both on public and private lands around Tanapag Village.

“We would like to thank all of the agencies involved in this effort highlighting the teamwork of EPA, DEQ and other CNMI agencies to improve the Saipan environment,” said Michelle Rogow, the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s on-scene coordinator for the project. “The successful completion benefits the Tanapag community by removing potential health hazards and provided a valuable training opportunity for DEQ staff in planning, participating in and finishing a large cleanup project.”

Besides the DEQ, other CNMI agencies which assisted in the project are: the Department of Public Works - Roads and Grounds, and Solid Waste; the Historic Preservation Office; the Department of Public Safety - Explosives Response Team; and the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation - Power and Wastewater Divisions. The cooperative effort maximized the amount of work which was done on the project and allowed the tanks to be removed in about two months.

Crews removed solid waste and vegetation, oil and oily water, and cleaned up contaminated materials and removed scrap tank metal. The workers also removed and properly disposed of oil-contaminated soil from the properties. The tank areas have been restored and are now safe areas for the public.

The Tanapag Fuel Farm, built in the mid to late 1940s, was used by the U.S. Navy to provide fuel for ships and aircraft during World War II and through the 1950s, after which up to 42 tanks were abandoned. When the tanks were abandoned, some residual oil was left in a few of the tanks. Deterioration of the tanks had made them unsafe and led to oil and oily water leaking into the ground.

For more information regarding this project, please contact CNMI DEQ at (670) 664-8500.
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