EPA engineer notes CUC’s progress on many projects

Russell Mechem II

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s designated representative and project coordinator for stipulated order number 2 has noted that the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. continues to make progress on various projects that are funded by the technical manager for oil fund.

In his court declaration, environmental engineer Russell Mechem II disclosed that Tank 104 at CUC’s power plants 1 and 2 in Lower Base has been demolished, and the area will now be used as a staging area.

The damaged and corroded roof for the drum storage area has been replaced, he added.

Bradley R. O’Brien, senior lawyer of the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section, filed Mechem’s declaration in the U.S. District Court for the NMI last week in support of the U.S. government’s August status report.

Mechem said old fuel piping from Tanks 102 and 103 at Power Plant 1 has been removed.

In addition, he said, procurement is proceeding on several new Technical Manager for Oil projects. Those projects include asbestos-covered pipe removal for power plants 1 and 2; secondary containment repairs and coating on Rota; cleaning inspections; and repairs for Tanks A and D at Power Plant 4 in Puerto Rico; and some training and equipment purchases for Saipan and Rota.

Although fruitful discussions have been ongoing, Mechem said the parties will take advantage of a status conference to further define upcoming SO2 projects.

SO2 focuses on oil issues and also applies to oil spills and the remediation of the contaminated power plants.

In addition to evaluating potential projects, he said, the parties will meet to discuss how to utilize the TMO fund versus Engineering and Environmental Management Company funding.

The engineer said they will also discuss how to identify which SO2 tasks should be completed by CUC versus the EEMC, so that projects will be cost-efficient and done on time.

He said the technical teams will meet on Saipan prior to the status conference in order to inspect potential project locations and to evaluate options.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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