CUC has yet to pay; expects to be assessed further costs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard have billed the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. approximately $9.63 million for oil contamination cleanup work at the Rota and Saipan power plants. CUC has yet to pay these assessments.
CUC legal counsel James S. Sirok expects CUC to be billed added costs by EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard for past and ongoing cleanup work on Rota and Saipan.
These matters were in CUC’s status report filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Friday. District Court designated Judge David Carter ordered CUC to prepare a status report in preparation for a status conference on Feb. 21, 2017.
For the Rota cleanup, EPA assessed CUC approximately $2.13 million, while the U.S. Coast Guard assessed CUC $3.4 million, Sirok said.
For the Saipan cleanup, Sirok said the U.S. Coast Guard assessed CUC about $4.1 million.
He said the Rota site has historically been impacted with diesel and PCB (transformer oil) releases into the soil and groundwater.
He said EPA conducted work at the Rota site as early as 2009, but most of their efforts were conducted from 2011 through 2013.
Sirok said CUC did not participate in those investigations.
As a result of EPA’s work, EPA’s on-scene coordinator, Michelle Rogow, asked on Feb. 14, 2013, for approval for costs through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act to clean up the Rota power plant site, Sirok said.
The lawyer said Rota contamination cleanup work has been conducted and posted for cost recovery under CERCLA by EPA and under the Oil Pollution Act through the National Pollution Funds Center by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sirok said there is some confusion of what contamination cleanup work or contamination assessment work, if any, is currently ongoing by EPA on Rota and on Saipan.
He said CUC wants to have this item put on the agenda for discussion during the February 2017 status conference.
Sirok said CUC has had minimal discussions with EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice on this issue and has previously informed EPA and DOJ of CUC’s desire for further discussion on its during the February status conference.