U.S. Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs Director Nikolau Pula said yesterday his office is open to assisting the CNMI by way of allowing the redirection of capital improvement project funds to help repair the Tinian pier which, in turn, would help support a proposed multimillion Tinian ship recycling facility.
First International Corp. or FIC owner Paul Slater is currently in the CNMI to reaffirm their interest in putting up a ship recycling facility on Tinian.
The proposed facility will turn decommissioned U.S. naval ships into scrap metal and sell them in the open market.
But the project hinges on, among other things, the necessary repair of the Tinian pier. This is where the CNMI needs OIA’s help.
Pula and Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz said there is no specific amount of CIP money requested yet for reprogramming because this amount could be known today, after CNMI officials meet with the FIC owner on Tinian.
Pula said the Tinian recycling facility could bring economic development to Tinian, and OIA would like to be able to help.
“The meeting they have (today) will determine the exact cost,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Dela Cruz and members of the Tinian Legislative Delegation led by Sen. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian), Sen. Henry San Nicolas (Cov-Tinian), and Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian) held a closed-door meeting in the Senate chamber yesterday with Pula, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, CIP Office representatives and the Commonwealth Ports Authority to get consensus on the project. Most of them are set to meet today, again, with FIC officials on Tinian.
After yesterday’s closed-door meeting, Dela Cruz said the CNMI will make an official request to OIA to allow the reprogramming of CIP money to help repair Tinian’s pier.
He said today’s meeting on Tinian will discuss costs, including the money that FIC is willing to invest, and the funding needed by the CNMI to repair the Tinian pier.
Dela Cruz said a minimum of $3.5 million is needed for the Tinian pier repair, which is key to getting the Tinian ship recycling facility project off the ground.
“CIP is one of them (possible funding source) and we’re still working to see if we can find additional funding somewhere,” he said.
But Dela Cruz said there are still provisions in the memorandum of understanding that have yet to be addressed.
He also said FIC has yet to submit a business plan.
Dela Cruz also clarified that the planned project is a ship recycling facility, not a repair facility nor a shipyard. The vessels will be “scrubbed” to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.