By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- Acting CNMI Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider on Thursday signed an executive order placing Tinian under a major disaster and state of significant emergency arising from pollution caused by a fire that broke out on June 19 at the island's typhoon debris site. "This fire spread and grew in intensity until it reached a location where waste and debris from Super Typhoon Yutu was being sorted and stored for disposal. Much of the waste and debris stored at the site included white good waste, e-waste, tires, batteries and other debris that contained toxic chemicals dangerous or otherwise unhealthy for humans," states the executive order. While the fire has been extinguished, officials said it has caused noxious smoke and fumes that drift throughout the residential areas, posing threats to the residents' health and safety.
"In consultation with the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office and other agencies, the acting governor believes that a declaration of major disaster and a state of significant emergency is warranted," according to a press release from the governor's office.
The executive order authorizes the secretary of finance to transfer funds from executive branch departments and agencies to "fund the containment, mitigation, and remediation of the threat to the health and welfare of the people of Tinian."
Hofschneider said the air pollution needs to be addressed immediately to mitigate its impact on public health.
"I am in communication with Mayor Edwin Aldan to work to address this imminent concern," Hofschneider said. “In addition, I am confident in the abilities of the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office, the CNMI Office of Planning and Development, and our local agencies in prioritizing resources and finding solutions to mitigate this situation," he added.