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Release Date: 12/8/2000
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will arrive in Tanapag Village this weekend to gather land crabs to determine if these shellfish in the village are contaminated with PCBs.

     The EPA conducted an sampling of eight crabs in May 2000, which were taken specifically from an area near Cemetery 2.  Those tests revealed that 5 of 8 crabs studied showed some PCB contamination.  As a precautionary measure, the Department of Public Health issued an advisory against eating land crabs pending further investigation.

     Over 50 crabs will be collected by EPA hydrogeologist, Kathy Baylor, from four locations in Tanapag Village and as well as samples from a control location in San Jose Village.  DEQ staff and community members will provide assistance.  Results of the land crab tests will be shared with the community, DEQ, DPH, the US Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry and the Army Corps of Engineers.

     "We were concerned when five of the crabs showed some PCB contamination," said Enrique Manzanilla, Director Cross Media Division.  "We decided we needed to conduct a more thorough scientific assessment to be sure eating Tanapag land crabs doesn't pose a risk."

     The EPA along with the Saipan Department of Environmental Quality have been monitoring the Corps cleanup of PCB contamination in Tanapag Village.  Although the EPA and DEQ have limited authority over the Corps' cleanup methods, both agencies continue to observe and comment on cleanup activities.  The village is not a Superfund site and the Corps is currently the lead agency for the cleanup.

     An EPA hazardous waste order was sent to the Corps on Sept. 19, 2000.  That requires the Corps to adhere to its published cleanup schedule, use scientifically proven methods for minimizing and eliminating the PCB waste and transporting waste out of Saipan if it can not be safely and completely eliminated.

          A member of the EPA team, Dr. Patrick Wilson, will be available next week to give a workshop on PCBs and health risks.

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