2 CUC projects are awarded $5M federal grant


Two Commonwealth Utilities Corp. projects—Tank 103 and the Rota Waste Management Project—have obtained a $5-million grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Special assistant attorney general Teresita Sablan said the $5 million was awarded last Thursday. She said she would receive last Friday any update from the Office of Insular Affairs.

Sablan disclosed this new funding when she appeared on behalf of the CNMI government at a hearing last Wednesday in federal court.

U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge David O. Carter said he would speak with Sablan on Saturday, Feb. 25, about this update, along with CUC counsel James Sirok.

The U.S. government did not object.

Tank 103 is a storage tank for fuel at CUC’s power plants 1 and 2 in Lower Base. It was shut down due to leaks. Its cleanup and inspection were completed in 2016, but repairs have been deferred for this year.

The Engineering and Environmental Management Company had recommended to the court that capital improvement projects for fiscal year 2017 include Rota facility waste management improvements, Tank 103 repairs and some secondary work, Power Plants 1 and 2 on Saipan, and EEMC construction management.

Carter recently granted a joint request by CUC and other parties to extend the deadline for the CNMI government to file with the court its notice of authorization to proceed for the $5 million funding for some CUC projects.

Carter allowed the CNMI government to file its notice of authorization to proceed for the $5 million funding for stipulated order 2 on or before March 1, 2017.

Pursuant to the court’s order, the CNMI must deposit $5 million into the court’s registry or file a notice with the court of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s authorization to proceed (ATP) for funding stipulated order 2 projects by Feb. 1, 2017.

The request for extension of deadline was jointly filed by Sirok, U.S. Department of Justice environmental enforcement section senior attorney Bradley R. O’Brien, and Sablan.

The lawyers stated that the U.S., including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Engineering and Environmental Management Company, have been working to obtain an ATP to devote $5 million to stipulated order 2 projects.

However, the lawyers said, it has become apparent that despite all efforts of the parties and the EEMC, an ATP will not be issued on or before Feb. 1, 2017.

They said the delay in the ATP is due to the fact that the Office of Insular Affairs is currently on continuing resolution through April 28, 2017, and issues surrounding the approval and completion of the CNMI’s single audit.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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