Pohnpei EPA shuts down Ohwa dredge site and road project for violations

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 7, 2020

Pohnpei—Pohnpei’s Environmental Protection Agency has shut down a dredge site in Ohwa, Madolenihmw.  According to EPA Director Henry Susaia, the EPA board issued a cease and desist order and a subpoena to the dredger. After hearings, the board issued an undisclosed fine.

Susaia said that EPA shut down the dredge site because the dredger was operating outside of the boundaries allowed by the permit and because it was operating without a berm or siltation barrier.

The dredger has paid the fine but the site remains closed to new dredging at the site.  EPA has ordered him to remove the dike that serviced the site. They must install siltation barriers while that process moves forward.

Susaia said that EPA also shut down the Lukop, Madolenihmw road improvement project for a period of time. He said that the contractors had piled up dirt on the shore line which was washing into the lagoon at that time.  Their permit had also expired. He said that the contractors have since removed the pile of dirt and guidelines have been established so that the project can continue.

“Our goal is to stop new dredging and to have dikes removed (from old dredge sites)”, Susaia said. He called the task of monitoring dredge sites one of their biggest challenges. On the one hand, aggregate is needed for the many pending and ongoing infrastructure projects. On the other, the environment, which is any and everything that surrounds us and that affects our lives, must be protected for our own survival even as we strive to make our environment better.  That is part of EPA’s mandate.

Much remains to be done.  Several dredge sites operate without siltation barriers of any kind. Though EPA has a mandate to shut down all sites that are operating without one until they are in place, they currently remain in operation.

Susaia says that so far all other dredge permits remain in place.