U.S. EPA completes major cleanup operations following Typhoon Yutu
HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ), the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. (CUC), and the Mayor’s Offices of Saipan and Tinian, has completed its mission to remove oil and hazardous waste and restore water supplies on Saipan and Tinian following Super Typhoon Yutu.
EPA’s work, which cost about $30 million, was authorized and funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-issued mission assignments in early November 2018.
“EPA was able to successfully complete this mission and help these communities recover following this devastating typhoon,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.
Following a natural disaster, oil, hazardous materials and other types of waste require special handling and disposal, particularly if they are compromised. Proper handling and disposal reduce potential threats to public health and safety, allow for a safe rebuilding process, and keep these wastes out of marine waters, local landfills and dump sites. In addition to removing hazardous waste, EPA assisted local agencies in sampling drinking water and provided technical assistance for wastewater operations and water supply restoration.
EPA collected, sampled, consolidated, shipped and disposed of over 31,000 items of electronic waste, white goods such as refrigerators and washers, and hazardous wastes from schools and public buildings. BECQ and other local stakeholders conducted curbside pickup of hazardous materials such as paints, solvents, herbicides, e-waste, appliances and other goods from residential properties while EPA operated public waste drop-off locations for these items. Residential collection and drop-off stations collected over 42,000 items for disposal.
EPA also collected 1,263 damaged electric transformers on Saipan and 184 on Tinian and sent most of the associated materials for recycling. In addition, EPA excavated contaminated soil associated with transformer spills at 260 locations on Saipan and 63 locations on Tinian. In total, EPA transported 193 shipping containers of waste material off island for appropriate recycling and/or disposal.
EPA also worked closely with the local government to restore drinking water supplies affected by the storm. EPA provided field support and laboratory supplies and assessed the operational conditions of water delivery systems on Saipan and Tinian. Drinking water assessments were done at mass care shelters, 17 bottling and ice companies, over 70 private water systems, and 176 restaurants and food establishments, and included the collection of over 800 water samples to assure water was not contaminated by coliform or E. coli. EPA also conducted damage assessments of 20 water storage tanks operated by CUC.
For additional information, including maps and photos, please visit: www.epa.gov/typhoonyuturesponse