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EPA awards over $4 million to Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands for environmental protection

Release Date: 08/28/2014
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(08/28/14) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded over $4 million to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in federal funds for CNMI environmental programs to continue environmental protection work.

The most recent grant of over $892,000 supplements an award of $3.16 million provided earlier in the year for environmental protection work.

“EPA’s funding enables CNMI to advance its goals in the pursuit of clean air, water and land,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator. “The continued program work and improvements will greatly benefit the residents of CNMI and their precious island resources.”

The critical funding will go to support the operations of the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ). The work done by the agency includes inspections, monitoring the safety of beaches and drinking water, and permit writing. Priorities include:

    Protection of the Achugao Watershed by reducing contamination flowing into the streams. The watershed is divided into two sub-catchments (north and south) that are drained by three main streams, referred to as Achugao 1, 2, and 3. Potential pollution sources discharging into the streams are outhouses, illegal on-site disposal systems, piggeries, urban runoff, and livestock grazing. Monitoring data will be collected to assess the water quality of the streams and determine what is contributing to the impairment of the near shore waters of Tanapag Village.
      Protection of coral reefs and indigenous plants and wildlife by promulgating updated Water Quality Standards for water quality monitoring and beach monitoring protection, and to ensure clean beaches for swimming and fishing. In addition, sediment monitoring for toxics and heavy metals is planned for two of the Achugao Watershed streams.
        Removal of buried drums, discarded batteries, and contaminated soil on Managaha Island. This Brownfields program work should be completed by February 2015.
          Promotion of island-wide household hazardous waste collection as part of an environmental outreach and education program.
            Ensuring potable drinking water for the residents of CNMI;
              Elimination of the illegal importation of pesticides and use of unregistered/foreign pesticides;
                Inspections to help ensure safe underground and above ground fuel storage tanks;
                  Emergency response, hazardous waste, and clean air program management;
                    Improvements to automate, standardize, and provide real-time access for sharing environmental data.

                  The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations -- home to more than 48 million people.
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