Shame on you!

Governor calls out littering and illegal dumping
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Posted on Jun 16 2020
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Volunteers help the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality clean up a sediment chamber near Lau Lau Bay. (IVA MAURIN)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had this strong message to litterbugs, who keep disposing of trash just about anywhere on the island.

In his regular radio news briefing last Friday, he called on people to stop throwing their trash anywhere and to help keep the CNMI clean and pristine. According to him, there is absolutely no justification for anyone to be littering and throwing trash around under any circumstances.

The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality said it has seen an increasing amount of trash and debris on remote beach sites and beaches on the east side of Saipan. BECQ urges the public to clean up before and after using a beach site. It also warned that, pursuant to the Litter Control Act, the following government agencies are mandated to enforce the Litter Control Law: BECQ, Department of Lands & Natural Resources, Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works, Commonwealth Zoning Office, Department of Public Lands, Department of Public Safety, Saipan Mayor’s Office, and the Office of the Mayor of each senatorial district and their respective departments.

Anyone who commits the offense of littering will be fined with a penalty fee of not less than $25 and not more than $5,000 based on the Litter Control Penalty Fee Matrix. Penalties will be assessed based on the weight, type, and location the act of littering took place.

Reminder that all public beaches and pathways are closed to all activities except for public use for purposes of exercise and wellness, both physical and mental, and shoreline subsistence fishing such as talåya, rod and reel, and commercial fishing activities, subject to the social distancing requirements.

The volunteers who helped in the cleanup. (IVA MAURIN)

Torres pointed out that people travel to the CNMI to see a clean environment and the CNMI itself spends thousands of dollars promoting the destination “and for us here to do this to the environment is really a shame. I’ve been frustrated about a lot of things but this is something that is just unacceptable.”

The governor reminded the community the environment is what the CNMI has. “We have the beach, go there, enjoy it. Hang out, let your kids swim, but when you leave, please pick [trash] up. How would you want to bring your family to the same beach, let them swim, and then you go there and you see all the trash around?” Torres said. “We have beautiful beaches here, beautiful islands. Let’s protect it. Carry your own weight, in terms of the trash that you bring in. Leave it cleaner than when you found it.”

Torres also said that everyone in the community, not just the government, has an obligation to protect the CNMI. “Let’s not blame the government that others are throwing their trash. The landfill is open. We have quotas per households. We all have to do our end to protect our environment. Please stop littering,” Torres said.

BECQ administrator Eli Cabrera supported Torres’ message in a separate interview, saying, “I believe the governor is right in [saying] ‘shame on you.’” He added that BECQ’s Litter Control Section has been going out every day, and also checks on any complaints they receive.

“When they call us or we see something, we send our team out to do the inspection. …We have cited 12 people that disposed their trash not on a designated area, and we issued them citation. So far, we have collected almost $4,000,” Cabrera said.

Last Friday, BECQ was at Lau Lau Bay, cleaning up a sediment chamber and a nearby beach.

Help keep the island clean and report any littering and illegal dumping to BECQ at 664-8500. Violators will be fined with a penalty fee of $25 to $5,000, based on the weight, type, and location where the littering took place, and as guided by the Litter Control Penalty Fee matrix.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com
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