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EPA and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands sign agreement for final closure of the Puerto Rico Dump

Release Date: 11/30/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the CNMI recently signed an agreement outlining the closure of the Puerto Rico Dump.

The agreement includes a schedule with deadlines for a financing plan, design and construction of final closure, and post-closure monitoring. The CNMI will need to employ a qualified solid waste manager to implement its solid waste management program, maintain and monitor the closed dump, and submit annual progress reports for at least 30 years. Construction activities for the final closure of the dump are expected to begin in August 2007, with the final closure set for February 2010.

"This agreement will benefit the residents of the CNMI by reducing water pollution and allowing for the reuse of the Puerto Rico Dump facility," said Alexis Strauss, director for the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Final closure of the dump will end the discharges of polluted storm water and leachate into Tanapag Lagoon, and will protect both the fragile marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and the lagoon's water quality."

Upon completion, the dump will be transformed into a grassy, vegetated mound with limited public access. The base of the dump will be reinforced with revetment stone and the steep slopes cut back. The CNMI will be installing monitoring wells and storm water and landfill gas collection systems at the site.

At various times, the EPA and CNMI inspectors have observed contaminated storm water and leachate ponding at the dump and flowing into Tanapag Lagoon. The dump has been a source of water pollution for over 50 years and the final closure will greatly reduce the dump's adverse impacts to the surrounding ocean ecosystem.

The United States Navy created the Puerto Rico Dump and it has been used by the CNMI government since 1978. The dump, which now covers 20 acres of Tanapag Lagoon, accepted municipal solid waste, garment industry waste, and fill material. The dump stopped taking waste in February 2003, after CNMI opened the state-of-the-art Marpi Solid Waste Management Facility

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