The contractors of Best Sunshine International, Ltd. has yet to determine where it would properly dispose water from its excavation activities on their site in Garapan although the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality said the company has been considering discharging in the lagoon.
According to BECQ administrator Frank Rabauliman, they have met with BSI to “discuss status progress as far as compliance.”
“We asked them to re-do their environmental compliance plan and phase it out,” Rabauliman said.
Rabauliman said BSI is currently at Phase 1, which is dewatering on site through excavation water being pumped out to bladder bags which allows sediment to settle and then pump it out to a ponding basin.
He added that they are ensuring that BSI is following this phase and that when they dewater, it remains on the footprint of the project until such time that they have a final plan for their Phase 2 or the discharging of the water offsite which will include work on pumping out water from the ponding basin, back to a bag that will allow further sedimentation to settle before they can discharge the cleaner water offsite.
“They’re still working on Phase 2,” Rabauliman said.
Rabauliman said BSI is yet to determine the location on where they will discharge the water.
“That too we’ve yet to hear what they would propose,” Rabauliman said, adding that they’ve looked at dewatering to an adjacent property, which they would need to properly acquire or discharge into the canal to the lagoon which is going to require a lot more than just a regular permit including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permits.
“I’m hearing that they are pursuing that,” Rabauliman said.
Rabauliman assured that there will be a lot of tests and water sampling before the excavated water will be allowed to discharge offsite.
“To what parameters [for the water sampling] we’re still working with the water branch here but certainly turbidity is a huge concern. But we also want to check on heavy metals or whatever other parameters that makes sense,” Rabauliman said.
“If we have reason to believe that there were petroleum on the site then perhaps we’ll check that but as you know there were a lot of different stuff that were found on the site,” he added.
BSI also requested again to lift the restriction on their work hours, which BECQ allowed provided that they are only going to do concreting until 10pm and no excavation activities will be done beyond the regular hours.
“As of last week, everything seems to be working. We haven’t heard any noncompliance issues they seem to be satisfied with the arrangement,” Rabauliman said.
“To their credit, they’ve really tried their best to keep the discharge within the footprint of the property,” he added.
Between the months of February and April, BECQ issued orders to BSI when it found violations as it repeatedly did not prevent runoff and contaminants from entering the lagoon, among others despite numerous warnings, fines, and cease-and-desist orders.
The casino company’s construction workers essentially worked through ways to illegally pump the project’s waste and discharge and their potential contaminants into the lagoon through deficient runoff and erosion controls, unpermitted runoff pipes and ponding basins, and excavated grounds outside their permitted construction site, among others, according to these documents.
Rabauliman said there has been “communication gaps” between BSI and their contractors.
“We’re meeting with BSI but BSI is not the contractor,” Rabauliman said, adding that the information and plans that were discussed “seemingly did not trickle down to the contractor.”
“I’m hoping that before they even consider another approach we need to be informed,” Rabauliman said, “We’re hoping that any new modifications to the plan, they’ll come back in.”
“Their timeline is still very aggressive. They want to open by the end of this year. We want to see that happen too, but at the same time we have mandates and responsibilities that we owe to the public and that’s to ensure that there will be minimum impact by the developers to the environment,” he added.