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CUC gets funds for well filtration system

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THE Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has received $778,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to purchase a mini-granular activated carbon or GAC filtration system, CUC Executive Director Gary Camacho said.

The system will be used to rehabilitate the Isley Tank wells that were contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid or PFOS due to the use of firefighting foam around the airfields in the past years.

“CUC is currently advertising for the procurement of a mini-GAC [filtration system],” Camacho said.

The mini-GAC will be used while a larger filtration system is being installed, he added.

Because of the CNMI government’s current financial situation, CUC asked the U.S. Department of Justice if the public utility could get EPA funding assistance to purchase a mini-GAC.

In Nov. 2008, DOJ and EPA lodged two stipulated orders to bring into compliance the wastewater plants and collection systems, public drinking water systems, five power plants, and an oil transfer pipeline of CUC.

The federal court has been overseeing compliance of CUC with the stipulated orders.

“The judge wants to get a system in as soon as possible and not have to wait for the larger GAC to be manufactured,” Camacho said.

So it can purchase a larger GAC system, the U.S. Department of Commerce-Economic Development Administration last month approved a $1.2 million grant for CUC.

“We were given the go-ahead to initiate procurement of the larger GAC [filtration system],” Camacho said.

CUC, however, is required to come up with 20% of the total grant amount.

Camacho said the Office of the Governor, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice have been very helpful in helping CUC obtain the necessary funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce- Economic Development Administration.

“We extend our appreciation for their assistance and understanding,” he added.

Camacho said the decision to use the GAC filtration system is supported by EPA.

Of the 18 wells that feed Isley Tank, three were affected by PFOS and PFOA. Six other contaminated wells feed the As Terlaje and Kanat Tabla tank service areas.

A total of nine wells are all operational and in good condition, and each can produce 50 gallons per minute, but they have been shut off since 2015, CUC said.

 

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