US to provide $750,000 for clean up of Commonwealth islands

Pacific islands with close political ties to the USA are to receive grants of $750,000 to clean up brownfield sites as part of a wider plan to improve their environment.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) played host to a gathering of Pacific Island nations this week to discuss climate change and sustainability issues.

During the event, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it would be putting forward the cash to help with contaminated land remediation.

“The sessions will focus on efforts making a difference in protecting island environments, examine environmental challenges and issues facing the Pacific Islands, and provide island leaders with the latest ideas and tools on preserving fragile ecosystems,” Laura Yoshii, acting regional administrator for the US EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region told the media before the conference.

“The $750,000 in brownfields assessment grants is just one tool to improve the environment for the residents of CNMI.”

The money will be used for the initial assessment of 26 sites to determine levels of contamination and find out what toxins may be present.

The EPA said the assessment of the brownfields is the first step toward cleanup and redevelopment of these potentially contaminated sites.

CNMI is one of a handful of tiny states that make up the US Commonwealth. While self-governing and independent, the islands have enjoyed a special relationship with the US since the end of World War II when the micro-state was liberated from Japan.

David Gibbs

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