16 Feb 2011

Leaky CNMI oil pipeline threatens tourism

7:31 am on 16 February 2011

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found that a leaky oil pipeline in the Northern Marianas will pose a threat to US navigable waters until it is repaired or replaced.

The agency has filed a report in a federal court which states that the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation pipeline is poorly maintained and has degraded to a condition that is no longer safe to operate at pressure.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says the pipeline runs several kilometres north of the tourist and business district of Garapan, and comes within 30 metres of the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, posing a threat to people and wildlife.

"It might endanger marine life and if it comes to the shore plant life, and at the same time people, tourists. This is one of the things that the Marianas Visitors Authority, our tourism body, prides CNMI about is its pristine waters. Once you have that kind of problem then tourists won't come here any more."

Mark Rabago says the EPA is trying to pressure the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation to repair the mile-long pipeline, but the corporation doesn't have the money.