The Commonwealth Ports Authority was cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lack of oil spill containment at the airport and faces fines if it fails to resolve the problem identified by the federal agency.
Saipan airport manager Ed Mendiola yesterday confirmed the release of the EPA citation but immediately claimed that the agency is in the process of addressing the deficiency.
EPA representatives conducted an inspection at the airport site last February where they uncovered the problem. Concerns were immediately raised to local ports officials regarding the importance of meeting the requirement.
Saipan Tribune learned that a formal letter that indicated the said violation was later released to CPA which was required to submit corrective action plans on a given period of time. It was learned that CPA will be assessed a fine if it fails to rectify the problem within a 60-day period.
According to Mendiola, CPA tapped the services of Allied Pacific Environmental Consulting Inc. for the project. However, the airport manager refused to disclose further details of the project but admitted that a corrective action plan has been already turned in to the federal agency.
In 2005 EPA issued a unilateral administrative order to CPA citing numerous violations on environment-related standards. Since then, the agency has hired APEC for several of these projects among them was the airport's incinerator project that saved the agency from paying fines and penalties to the federal agency in the past.
Yesterday, APEC project manager Robert Jordan confirmed to Saipan Tribune that the notice to proceed was issued to the company in February for the new concern and the contract was awarded in March. In early April, Jordan said APEC completed the corrective plan and submitted to both EPA and its local arm Division of Environmental Quality.
He said APEC had a discussion with EPA last week and they're currently awaiting additional comments regarding the final spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPPC plan) turned in to the federal agency.
For many years, Jordan said his company has been closely working with CPA and provide advices to the agency to bring it in full compliance with any EPA citations. The company, he said, also provides necessary trainings to personnel.
In the SPPC plan, Jordan pointed out the need for regular maintenance and inspection of storage areas. CPA, he added, has also a number of projects in its books that could also help address such concerns such as the building of a modern aircraft rescue fire fighting center to be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The U.S. EPA has spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) rules that aim at preventing and controlling oil spills that could pollute water bodies. These rules apply to facilities that have the capacity to store more than 42,000 gallons of oil in underground storage tanks, or more than 1,320 gallons above the ground. Considering that airports store oil and are near bodies of water, these provisions apply to airport facilities too.
EPA requires that a qualified operator have a response plan in place that will be implemented in the event of a spill. The regulations are part of the EPA's Emergency Management Program.