Site Assessment and Remediation
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Tanapag Fuel Farm Removal
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ), with cooperation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will remove some of the old military above-ground oil storage tanks and associated contamination from Tanapag Village. This joint effort will not only rid the Tanapag community of these potential health hazards, but will also train DEQ staff in the areas of planning, assessment, sampling, health and safety monitoring, cleanup and project management. This action is being funded by EPA.
How the Community Can Help: Because much of the work that will be done is in close proximity to people’s houses, it’s essential that everyone cooperate so it gets done quickly and safely. Work areas will be surrounded by orange fencing and “Keep Out” signs to discourage children from getting near heavy equipment and work areas. Please keep your children away from these areas. EPA and DEQ are planning to meet with affected residents individually to explain the work to be done and to hear any concerns they may have. These meetings will be held throughout the project, shortly before work is scheduled to begin in that area. It is our intention to complete this work with as little impact on the community as possible. If residents wish, they can voluntarily relocate to houses of friends or family for the short time that work will be occurring in their area.
Site History: The Tanapag Fuel Farm, built in the mid to late 1940s, was used by the U.S. Navy to provide fuel for ships and aircraft during World War II and through the 1950s, after which the tanks were abandoned. Historical information suggests there were up to 42 tanks which held different types of gas and oil. A survey conducted in 1998 by the Corps revealed 25 tanks still visible on the ground. Of those tanks, this removal effort is aimed at six that are considered high priority. When the tanks were abandoned, some residual oil was left in a few of the tanks. As the tanks have corroded and collapsed due to age and weather, rainwater has entered the tanks. The six priority tanks contain oil and oily water. Some of the oil that was in them has gone onto the ground surface.
Existing Hazards: There are both physical and chemical hazards associated with tanks in the Tanapag Fuel Farm. Physically, the deteriorating tanks present several hazards to both people and animals: structural instability, sharp surfaces from the rusted and ripped steel and easy access to inside and outside the tanks. Chemical hazards vary depending on the tanks and locations but include total petroleum hydrocarbons (oil) as the primary contaminant of concern, and some metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium and iron). Background soil samples indicate that elevated levels of arsenic and possibly iron are likely naturally occurring in Saipan soils.
What Will Be Done: The six tanks have been prioritized according to the amount of oil remaining in the tanks and proximity to residences. However, available funding will ultimately determine how many tanks get addressed at this time. Beginning April 12, EPA and DEQ will start to sample some tank sites to gather more information on levels and locations of contamination before beginning the actual removal. On April 17 work will begin on Tank 10, near the Martin residence. The work in this tank area will take approximately two weeks to complete. Work will consist of solid waste and vegetation removal, cutting of the tanks, removal of oil and oily water, decontamination of impacted materials and removal of scrap tank metal. Contaminated soils will also be excavated. Oil and contaminated soil will be removed from the property and properly disposed. Soil sampling will be conducted to ensure that cleanup meets residential standards. Each tank area will be managed as a separate site location. Work on the three tanks on the Falig family property will begin as the work in the Tank 10 area is nearing completion. The remaining tank areas on public lands will be addressed as there is enough money left to do so. Work is planned to take place Monday through Saturday during daylight hours. It is anticipated that the work will be ongoing for at least four weeks.
Project Completion: The Tanapag Fuel Farm Project was completed on the June 13, 2006. Six (6) fuel tanks were successfully removed from the village of Tanapag.
If you have questions or concerns, regarding the Tanapag Fuel Farm Removal, please contact project managers Michelle Rogow of EPA or Ray Masga of CNMI BECQ: