CUC to get $10.4M more from EPA


Bradley O’Brien

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is expected to get $10.4 million more this year from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to fund improvements to CUC’s water and wastewater in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu.

Bradley R. O’Brien, senior attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section, informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday that the new infusion of funds is on top of the $80 million that EPA has already given CUC to fix its water and wastewater systems since the District Court issued two mandated orders in March 2009 through January 2020.

Those orders, called Stipulated Order No. 1 and No. 2, directed CUC to implement certain projects. SO 1 focuses on drinking water and wastewater issues, such as requiring CUC to provide safe drinking water to residents on a 24-hour basis, maintaining adequate chlorine supplies, and safely treating and discharging wastewater, among other projects. SO2 projects, on the other hand, focuses on oil issues such as requiring CUC to repair and replace oil storage units and operation infrastructure, manage tank and pipeline facilities and handle storm water runoff.

O’Brien filed yesterday before the court the U.S. government’s January 2020 status report for CUC that will be discussed at a status conference this month.

Projects to be discussed at the conference include installing a dual-unit incinerator system at CUC’s Power Plants 1 and 2 in Lower Base, improving drainage systems at Power Plants 1 and 2, and at Power Plant 4 in Puerto Rico, Saipan.

Other projects to be tackled include installing new horizontal storage tanks at Power Plant 4 and completing the Rota Power Plant fuel filtration or “eliminator” system.

O’Brien also disclosed that prior to the court’s entry of an Engineering and Environmental Management Company order, the Department of the Interior gave CUC $10 million for SO2 projects.
In 2014, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David O. Carter selected Gilbane Federal as the EEMC, giving it the power to rapidly complete some stalled CUC projects or help CUC comply with court-mandated projects under SO2.

O’Brien said the CNMI, pursuant to the EEMC order and through $17.8 million in DOI grants earmarked to the CNMI and $5 million in a CNMI monetary payment, is contributing an additional $22.8 million toward CUC’s SO2 projects.

He said that since the entry in March 2009 of the two stipulated orders through January 2020, CUC will have received in excess of $112 million from federal government agencies ($107 million) and the CNMI ($5 million) for SO1 and SO2 projects.

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

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