‘It is a good chance to show CUC projects as they are to judge, EPA’


Department of Justice environmental enforcement section senior attorney Bradley R. O’Brien, left, U.S. Environment Protection Agency regional counsel Janet A. Magnuson, and EPA environmental engineer F. Russell Mechem II are all smiles outside the U.S. District Court after a status conference on the progress and other issues with some Commonwealth Utilities Corp. projects. (Ferdie De La Torre)

Judge David Carter’s tour and inspection of different Commonwealth Utilities Corp. projects gives the agency a chance to present the projects “as they are” to the judge and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to CUC executive director Gary Camacho on Tuesday.

In an interview during the tour and inspection, Camacho said there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done with CUC projects and that they will be working closely with EPA in making some adjustments.

During the tour, Carter, the designated judge for the U.S. District Court for the NMI, took photos of the projects and facilities with his cell phone and his discussion with CUC and EPA lawyers and personnel, as well with contractors’ representatives.

Carter has been in talks with the U.S. government, CUC, and Gilbane Federal about the progress of some CUC projects.

Gilbane Federal is the court-appointed company that is overseeing some CUC projects.

Camacho said that Carter is here to review projects outlined in stipulated orders 1 and 2.

SO1 focuses on drinking water and water issues and the restructuring of CUC’s organization. SO2 are projects relating to oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response.

“Right now they have gone through a number of areas at the water facilities, some of the new tanks, the filtration at the airport and other areas,” said Camacho shortly after Carter finished inspecting the newly-built water tank at the Northern Marianas College.

Camacho said they will also inspect Power Plant 4 in Puerto Rico and Power Plant 1 in Lower Base.

He said that he, along with EPA and CUC’s water and power personnel, will be reviewing other matters.

Camacho said there are some questions that they need to answer and some areas of concerns that they have raised in the water system. Construction is already done on the NMC water tank but it would go into effect sometime in April, Camacho said. Construction to replace the old tank started a year and a half ago.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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