Nine gallons of used cooking oil were found dumped at Coral Ocean Point last Saturday by volunteers of the beach cleanup organized by the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.
BECQ Toxic Waste Management’s Leonardo Sanchez said the gallons of used cooking oil were found in one of the pavilions along the beach, where, at the time of the cleanup, it was suspected that some of the oil had already leaked to the beach, with one of the containers already found empty.
“…We assumed that the oil probably already leaked out of the gallon and is already gone…but then most of them were still intact, so we put them in bags. We double-bagged each gallon just to make sure that they don’t leak out when we dump them [at] the transfer station,” he said.
Sanchez pointed out that dumping used cooking oil on beaches is detrimental to marine life, particularly corals. “People dumping used cooking oil along the beach would affect marine life, especially because they literally dumped it right by where the water is, really close to the shore, which is very irresponsible.”
Aside from the gallons of used oil, volunteers, mostly students from Saipan Southern High School, also found bags of household trash, which included a carpet, used clothes, and some labeled document folders. The pavilions, as well as the beach, were also littered with beer cans and water bottles.
One of the volunteers, Saipan Southern High School student Queenie Torwan, called for the community to be responsible when spending time at the beach.
“We’re picking up trash, which is important because it will help the environment. [For the community], I suggest that when they come here and they enjoy themselves and have fun, that they take back their trash with them when they leave, instead of leaving it behind,” she said.
Some of the cleanup volunteers also suggested the collection of a flat trash collection fee, with the money to be used to build a recycling plant facility in the CNMI. It was also suggested that manufacturers of plastic bottles and aluminum cans be charged for disposal, where they have to pay or they would not be allowed to ship products into the island.
Proper waste management could be costly, Sanchez concedes, but he appealed for everyone to “be responsible and mature about it.”
“Dispose of your trash, dispose of your used oil properly. Transfer stations can accept them. There are all the agencies out there that can help guide you on where to dump these kinds of hazardous waste, instead of just dumping it at some beach. This is your island, take care of your own island,” he added.
To report illegal dumping of used oil, contact BECQ’s Toxic Waste Management office at (670) 664-8505. To volunteer for the next cleanup, contact 664-8500/1.