DOI issues $730K authorization to proceed with CUC Tank 103 project


The U.S. Department of the Interior has issued an authorization to proceed in the amount of $730,614 for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s Tank 103 project.

DOI Office of Insular Affairs grants management specialist Keith W. Aughenbaugh submitted to CNMI Capital Improvement Projects administrator Virginia Villagomez on Thursday the authorization to proceed with the Tank 103 cleanout, inspection and repair project.

Aughenbaugh said OIA has reviewed the memorandum-for-record dated March 4, 2016, requesting the use of fiscal year 2016 CIP funding for the Tank 103 project.

As a result, Aughenbaugh said, OIA finds the project to be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, Council on Environmental Quality Regulations, and Department of Interior NEPA Regulations.

Tank 103 is CUC’s only aboveground storage tank that can hold more than a day’s supply of fuel. Located in Lower Base, the tank was shut down and repaired due to leaks. The leak reportedly contributes to oil contamination at Power Plants 1 and 2 in Lower Base.

Assistant attorney general Teresita J. Sablan, counsel for the CNMI government, informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Friday about DOI’s authorization to proceed for Tank 103 project.

Sablan said the $730,614 will be available for the project described in the authorization to proceed and supporting scope of work and will not be reprogrammed without the mutual agreement of the parties.

Sablan said with this notice and two previous notices, the CNMI has met its $5 million funding requirements for Fiscal Year 2016.

Pursuant to the court’s final order, the CNMI must deposit $5 million into the court’s registry or file a notice with the court of DOI’s authorization to proceed for funding SO2 Projects by Feb. 1, 2016.

The parties—the CNMI government, CUC, and the U.S. government—stipulated to extend the deadline twice. The court approved the stipulations.

DOI had already issued authorizations to proceed in the amount of $3,887,161 for CUC’s pipeline construction project and $382,225 for construction management by Engineering Environmental Management Company (EEMC).

Last Jan. 29, DOI approved the CNMI government’s request for additional $5 million in funding for CUC’s Stipulated Order 2 projects.

The SO2 projects refer to the decommissioning of the existing CUC pipeline and smart pigging of the new CUC pipeline; waste management for Power Plants 1 and 2 on Saipan and Rota power plant; engineering and design of facility drainage improvements for Power Plants 1 and 2; soil cleanup for Power Plant 1, and SO2 construction management by EEMC.

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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