Newly found underground Japanese tunnel ‘very close’ to fuel tank


The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality is looking into the Japanese underground tunnel found at the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s power plant on Rota.

According to BECQ Administrator Frank Rabauliman, they are assessing the tunnel, noting that it is “very close” to CUC’s fuel tank.

“Obviously it’s very close to an AST, above storage tank for CUC,” Rabauliman said.

However, they are not yet sure whether or not the AST is directly above a portion of the tunnel which was earlier described by CUC acting manager Gary Camacho as an “elaborate” tunnel that goes in different directions, looking like “something from the war era” and has cemented walls and floors.

CUC earlier said that their transformer and oil storage facility is directly above a portion of tunnel.

“We’re surveying it whether it runs under the AST. We’re hoping that it doesn’t,” Rabauliman said.

He added that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IX office was already informed of the tunnel.

“They are aware of that tunnel,” Rabauliman said.

“We’re making sure that, and we’re working with EPA on this, to make sure that the integrity of that tank is not compromised with the newly discovered tunnel,” he added.

According to CUC, the underground Japanese tunnel was accidentally discovered on Rota by their contractor earlier this year.

The contractor was working on a certain area near the power plant when that area caved in.

Water and oil were found inside the tunnel although it is not yet clear where they came from and how long the sludge has been there.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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