Environmental Protection

Agencies Find Storage, Disposal Issues at Saipan Airport

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with the Commonwealth Port Authority for $32,500 for hazardous waste treatment, handling, storage, and used oil disposal violations at its Saipan International Airport facility, according to an Aug. 18 press release.

"We are serious about protecting the community, workers, and the environment from improper management of hazardous wastes," said Jeff Scott, director of Waste Programs for the EPA Pacific Southwest region. "Facilities face serious fines for not meeting regulatory requirements and must safely dispose of all wastes."

In March 2005, an EPA inspector working along with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands' Division of Environmental Quality inspectors found the facility had open containers of hazardous waste and stored its hazardous waste and used oil in severely corroded and leaking containers. EPA found the facility's treatment, handling, storage, and disposal of motor oil, used motor oil, used oil-based paint, solvents, and other unknown solid and hazardous waste was an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and the environment.

The facility treated, stored and disposed of hazardous waste without a permit and also failed to:

• notify the EPA of its waste activity;

• transfer waste into containers in good condition, keep containers closed, and conduct weekly inspections;

• determine the type of and minimize releases of hazardous wastes;

• store used oil in un-leaking containers and label containers; and

• respond to releases of used oil, and comply with oil pollution control requirements.

Operations at the airport facility include equipment maintenance and waste treatment and disposal. The facility historically accepted and burned solid and hazardous waste from airlines, law enforcement agencies, local businesses, and military vessels.

EPA's hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label, and seal hazardous waste containers. Facilities also must have properly trained staff, as improperly stored hazardous waste can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment. Proper disposal of hazardous waste is required at a permitted disposal site with the proper permits and notifications made to EPA.

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