US govt seeks court approval for 6 CUC projects worth $5M


The U.S. government has requested the U.S. District Court for the NMI to approve six projects for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. that have a total budget of $5 million, mostly grant funded.

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section senior attorney Bradley R. O’Brien, asked the court to approve CUC projects under the so-called amended Task Order 1 and Task Orders 11 to 14.

Five projects are grant funded and budgeted at $4,879,000, while one is court registry funded and budgeted at $165,000, or for a total budget of $5,044,000. The CNMI government was required to deposit certain amount of funds to court registry under the settlement agreement with the U.S. government.

O’Brien said the Task Order projects are intended to be completed primarily by Gilbane Federal, the court-appointed engineering and environmental management company (EEMC), with the assistance of CUC.

O’Brien said CUC and the CNMI government support the U.S. government’s request.

Amended Task Force Order 1 relates to EEMC construction and management administration costs relating to Stipulated Order No. 2.

Stipulated Order No. 2 projects relate to oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response.

In addition to EEMC management costs, O’Brien said the amended Task Order 1 includes two specific projects.

He said one project relates to assisting CUC with developing a regulatory compliant facility response plan reflecting new infrastructure and increasing CUC’s ability to respond to an oil spill.

The EEMC will rely on CUC to provide on-the-ground logistical support.

This project, O’Brien said, is grant funded and budgeted at $150,000.

The second project relates to assisting CUC in developing a corrosion and cathodic protection manual to allow CUC to better maintain and increase the longevity of metal structures such as tanks and ancillary equipment.

O’Brien said cathodic protection is especially important in CNMI’s salty and humid environment as corrosion is more prevalent in this environment.

He said this project is grant funded and budgeted $50,000.

He said the amended Task Order 1 increases the 2017-2018 funding ceiling by $382,000 with $321,000 borne by grand funding and $61,000 borne by the court registry.

Task Order 11 relates to utilizing an in-line inspection tool (smart pig) to delineate “as built” conditions of the recently constructed CUC pipeline.

O’Brien said the smart pig will be run through the CUC pipeline to record and document baseline data such as pipe metal thickness and potential deformations.

This project, O’Brien said, is grant funded and budgeted at $591,500.

Task Order 12 relates to improving surface drainage conditions and systems at Power Plants 1 and 2 and Power Plant 4 to control surface water, minimize and contain oil impacted water, and prevent offsite oil migration.

This project, O’Brien said, is grant funded and budgeted at $2,376,500.

He said the amount of Task Order 12 work may increase with court approval, if additional funding becomes available from other Task Orders or funding sources.

Task Order 13 is a Phase 2 project and relates to facility waste management improvements at Power Plants 1 and 2.

Task Order 13, O’Brien said, involves procuring, shipping, installing, and commissioning an incinerator system.

The incinerator system will accommodate only nonhazardous solid materials from CUC’s power plants.

O’Brien anticipated that the need for the Power Plants 1 and 2 incinerator system to manage Rota power plant materials will be greatly diminished due to the Rota Power Plant eliminator system.

Although Task Order 13 is on schedule, the incinerator system is subject to CNMI permitting, he said.

Task Order 13 is currently grant funded and budgeted at $1,711,000.

O’Brien said discussions have been held to evaluate whether a portion of Task Order 13’s costs should be court registry funded.

Task Order 14 is a phase 2 project that relates to Rota power plant waste management improvements and the purchase and installation of advanced oil filtration equipment.

Specifically, O’Brien said, an advanced oil filtration unit known as the eliminator will be installed on the Rota Power Plant’s four main Cummins generator sets.

This project, he said, will enhance operational efficiencies and reduce long-term operational costs.

Task Order 14 is court registry funded and budgeted at $165,000.

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

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