The Japanese investors who recently visited the CNMI are sending engineers and other technical experts to Pagan as early as next week to study the place and gather data that will help them craft a formal plan to mine pozzolan on the island where they also plan to bring and recycle tsunami debris from at least two Japan prefectures, Rep. Froilan Tenorio (Cov-Saipan) said.
“They will study everything including the logistics-shipping, the kind of infrastructure they need to bring tsunami debris and mining pozzolan and bring them to Japan. They need to study how they will be able to take the pozzolan from the site to the harbor and to the ship. It's going to take time,” Tenorio told Saipan Tribune in an interview at his office yesterday afternoon.
Tenorio came back on Sunday from a trip to Japan where he met with the Japanese investors, including Isamu Tokuichi, chairman of the board of Kansai Oil Co. and president of New Energy Corp.
Tenorio, a former governor and speaker, also visited a prefecture that is still swamped with debris from the March 2011 tsunami.
He said once the engineers and other experts are able to determine the costs associated with their plan, that's the time they will be able to draft a business plan and sit down with the Department of Public Lands on their planned lease of portions of Pagan.
Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said last week that as far as he knows, “all we got are business cards from them,” and not any business plan or anything in writing about their proposal to mine pozzolan on Pagan and bring tsunami debris there. Inos said he would like to see a formal business plan from the investors.
Tenorio said the technical experts coming to the CNMI may be accompanied by Oku Shigeharu, chairman of Japan Southwest Islands Security Institute and one of those who visited Pagan last month.
Tenorio also said that the pozzolan samples from Pagan that Shigeharu brought with him to Japan were analyzed and confirmed to be of good quality.
In April, after a preliminary visit to Pagan, the Japanese investors said they are looking at leasing for 10 to 15 years roughly 2,000 hectares of public land on Pagan to mine pozzolan and to recycle pre-treated tsunami debris that they plan to bring in from Japan.
This early, however, some CNMI residents are expressing opposition to what they describe as the “desecration” of Pagan by turning it into a dumping ground.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier told Saipan Tribune that they are keeping an eye on this proposal.
The Japanese investors said the tsunami debris will be pre-treated, non-toxic, and non-radioactive, citing Japanese and international laws that prohibit shipment of highly toxic materials from one country to another.
The tsunami debris will be coming from two prefectures in Japan-Miyagi and Iwate. These are north of Fukushima where the damaged nuclear power plants are located, they said.
The investors said it is costly to ship pozzolan from Pagan to Japan. One way to help offset the cost is to bring pre-treated tsunami waste from Japan to Pagan, and this way, the ship won't sail empty going to Pagan.
The Japanese government pays prefectures that want to take in debris from the March 2011 tsunami and some of these prefectures are contracting with private investors to dispose of these debris, Tenorio added.