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BECQ: Littering at tourist sites a growing concern

TOURISTS have been littering at Hidden Beach and Mount Tapochau, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Administrator Frank Rabauliman told Saipan Rotary Club members on Tuesday.

“There is lots of trash left by our visitors,” he added.

There’s also trash on the beach at Coral Ocean Point, he said, “but the COP management has been very cooperative in cleaning up the site — littering is now minimal in that area.”

Frank Rabauliman

BECQ, he added, is now working with the Marianas Visitors Authority to include awareness of the anti-littering law in certifying tour agents.

In an interview, Division of Environmental Quality Director Ray S. Masga said they can determine if the litter comes from tourists.

“Cigarette butts and soda cans — we associate those with tourists while trash from residents usually comes in larger volumes and in trash bags,” he added.

Rabauliman said they will be sorting out trash dumped illegally to find names and receipts and identify potential violators “who will have to explain to the court.”

Early this month, MVA reported on the large volume of cigarette butts and other litter dumped on Managaha.

Rabauliman said they have discussed with Tasi Tours, the concessioner of Managaha, how to address the problem.

“There were some suggestions on how to approach it, one of which is to ban smoking on Managaha,” he added.

Another option is to designate smoking areas, he said.

“I just need to touch base with the stakeholders, especially Tasi Tours, and see how we can move forward.”

In a separate interview, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said tour agents should help educate visitors about the CNMI’s anti-littering law.

His office’s beautification program is not limited to villages, he said, adding that they also collaborate with the Division of Parks and Recreation in cleaning up tourist sites.

“I think MVA is already posting signs against littering in tourist areas,” the mayor said.

Concerning the trash near the Imperial Pacific International hotel-casino reported by Rep. Ed Propst, Rabauliman said the problem has already been addressed.

“BECQ has issued lots of citations to IPI, including ones related to managing their trash,” he added.

He said they have also issued an administrative order against IPI and fined the company $1,000.

“I believe IPI is quick to address such things because we’ve been issuing them citations,” he added.

Masga, for his part, said they conducted an inspection prior to the soft opening of the IPI casino.

“We went around making sure all concerns had been addressed, because there were also permits required prior to the opening,” he said.

Rabauliman said the amount of the fines they can impose is set by law.

“There is a set amount of the fines, and we have to follow what the regulations say.”

He said although DEQ goes after illegal dumping, Coastal Resources Management sets conditions for managing solid waste.

“For any violation, CRM can impose a fine of up to $25,000. So there are ways to make those violations painful,” he added.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/97232-becq-littering-at-tourist-sites-a-growing-concern

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