"A critical milestone"— CNMI's ASADRA-funded solid waste infrastructure project for Marpi Landfill Cell 2 is moving forward
ANNOUNCEMENTS | July 18, 2022
From left: Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Manuel Pangelinan; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act (ASADRA) Lead/ Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the CNMI Michelle Baker, and Office of Planning and Development Director A. Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong share a photo together after DFW issued a conditional permit for the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 rehabilitation project.
On July 18, 2022, the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) completed interagency review and approved land clearing, excavation, trenching, use of heavy equipment, backfilling, and construction as part of the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 rehabilitation project. With this clearance from DFW, the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 will be the first Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act (ASADRA)-funded solid waste infrastructure construction project moving forward on Saipan.
In addition to its mandated responsibilities to give and enforce regulations related to hunting, fishing, harvesting, taking of species, and other related issues, DFW under the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR) also reviews all development proposals submitted to the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) through the "One Start" development permitting program to ensure that negative impacts to endangered and threatened species are avoided, minimized, and appropriately mitigated.
"I want to thank [contractor Micronesian Environmental Services LLC] for going through the permitting process and I wish them a successful implementation of this project", said DFW Director Manuel Pangelinan.
EPA Region 9 ASADRA Lead and Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the CNMI Michelle Baker described the issuance of the permit for the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 rehabilitation project as a "critical milestone".
"The issuance of this permit is a critical milestone for ensuring that the CNMI can continue to properly dispose of waste materials that cannot otherwise be diverted from the landfill. Thank you to everyone who made the issuance of this permit possible", said Baker.
According to the EPA website, the CNMI was awarded $565,980 in October 2020 and $5,693,217 in March 2021 respectively to support improvements to the CNMI's hazardous and solid waste management to address the impacts of Super Typhoon Yutu. Funding for these awards comes through the Congressional ASADRA appropriations to EPA. These awards reflect the first and second approved work plans in a series of allocations related to disaster recovery in the CNMI, which will total $56 million once fully dispersed.
Capacity building and emergency disaster response support have been ongoing since the grant award through the Inter-Island Solid Waste Management Taskforce, which is coordinated by the Office of Planning and Development (OPD) and includes representatives from the Offices of the Mayors, the Department of Public Works (DPW), and BECQ as well as subject matter experts from EPA.
This planning and project implementation taskforce is facilitating island-wide data collection, training, proposal development, and planning to support more sustainable growth envisioned in the CNMI's Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP), including Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #12: Responsible Consumption and Production, which aims for improved recycling and waste diversion. More insights on the taskforce, the SDGs, and efforts to implement sustainable strategies into CNMI planning and projects can be found here.
Micronesian Environmental Services LLC (MES) was the contractor selected to lead the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 rehabilitation project in 2021 but concerns regarding the possible presence of endangered species at the Cell 2 project site required DFW to conduct surveys and additional research before permit issuance for this construction project could proceed.
According to the permit issued on July 18, 2022, DFW staff conducted a survey at Cell 2 on June 1, 2022 and noted that endangered bird species were detected around the edge of Cell 2. However, DFW reported that although the project has the potential to disturb certain endangered bird species in areas adjacent to Cell 2, the project site does not contain suitable habitat for these bird species. DFW added that the project site is already exposed to constant loud noise from the use of heavy equipment within the Marpi Landfill.
Additional coordination and support were also received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and subject matter experts from the Department of Public Works (DPW), BECQ, and the Office of Planning and Development (OPD).
Within the approved permit, DFW included permit conditions focused on the restoration and recovery of endangered species. These conditions include DFW reserving the right to issue a cease-and-desist order to conduct a resurvey of the site if a threatened or endangered species is detected at the project site; limiting vegetation removal to within the Cell 2 project site; and limiting the use of noisy heavy equipment at the project site to non-peak breeding seasons for the Nightingale reed warbler.
With this clearance from DFW, the Marpi Landfill Cell 2 will be the first Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act (ASADRA)-funded solid waste infrastructure construction project moving forward on Saipan.
To learn more about how this important project furthers cross-cutting interagency goals to achieve "zero waste" and read detailed insights on the Sustainable Development Goals, please review the Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP) available here
Comprehensive waste management planning efforts are also ongoing - visit our homepage to view announcements and the events calendar so you can learn more and get more involved in efforts that further sustainable outcomes for the people, environment, and built infrastructure of our islands.