Report on internship conducted with Yap State Environmental Protection Agency (Federated States of Micronesia) Public

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  • This internship was supported and funded by the Yap State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of the Interior, Office of Territorial and International Affairs, and the University of Oregon Micronesia and South Pacific Technical Assistance Program. What follows in this report is a description of the internship that was undertaken between 17 June and 16 September, 1994 and the resulting document which was submitted to each of the funding organizations. This report, entitled Yap State Outer Island Environmental Survey & Draft Pesticide Regulations, is provided as Attachment A. Yap State, one of the three Federated States of Micronesia, is undergoing dramatic influences which are rapidly transforming their traditional and subsistence oriented culture. Increased economic activities including the potential for development of commercial agricultural activities in Yap are believed to pose corresponding increases in health and environmental hazards. It was expressed that additional environmental regulations, including pesticide regulations, were required to reduce and control this potential for detrimental exposure to humans and their environment. Therefore, Yap EPA requested technical assistance through the University of Oregon's program. In addition to drafting pesticide regulations, the director of the Yap State EPA requested a survey of Yap's outer islands environmental concerns, primarily focusing on vessel grounding incidents and identification of hazardous material problems. This undertaking would address both his ongoing desire to assess environmental problems as perceived by the islanders themselves, as well as familiarize the outer islanders with the environmental agency. These islands are extremely remote and speak different languages (Woleai or Ulithi) than Yap proper (Yapese and English) which presents difficult logistical exchanges with the center of State government. My brief exposure to the Yapese culture necessarily constrains the plausibility that my recommendations may actually be either beneficial or implementable. Therefore, they were merely offered for consideration only, not as a critique of what ought to happen. While it's very easy to enter a situation from the outside and offer different ideas on how "best" to address perceived problems, in truth, only minor adjustments may realistically be expected. Bearing in mind that my experience with the Yapese culture and environmental circumstances is limited, and that I maintain an inherent western developed nation bias, the following were general observation suggested to improve the overall functioning of the Yap State Environmental Protection Agency as a whole: * Establish a new position in EPA with the responsibility to draft environmental regulation, develop program plans, and conduct plan review. Delineate overlapping jurisdictions between the various agencies and departments to minimize confusion Institutionalize the Environmental Impact Assessment program as developed by the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Prioritize EPA's various missions and formalize through the Environmental Protection Board. There were nine areas of concern identified during the environmental survey of Yap State's outer islands. Brief recommendations on possible responses to these concerns were provided to the various appropriate governmental agencies. The survey is provided within Attachment A; Appendix I of this report. The areas of concern were as follows: • Vessel Groundings & Potential Oil Spills Island Chief's Role/Responsibilities for Incident Response • Wreck/Structural Debris Removal • Placement of Aids To Navigation • Vessel Generated Pollution • Potential PCB Contaminated Transformer Oil Hazardous Chemicals/Waste Oil • Biological Disruptions • Non-production Wells Pesticide regulations were also drafted since chemical pesticides pose a health risk to the general population and the environment if not properly managed. These regulations were designed to specifically protect human health and the environment through control of importation, certification of applicators, storage, handling, disposal, and record keeping requirements. These regulations were created to affect those public and private persons responsible for importation, distribution, storage, application, and disposal of pesticides. Specifically exempt from the regulations were pesticides which are intended solely for distribution via retail outlets for private household use, and whose "Signal Word" on the label does not exceed "Caution" as an indicator of toxicity. Therefore, products like mosquito coils, aerosol insecticide sprays, and rodent baits are not subject to the same strict standards. If a determination is made that chemical pesticides are required to aid in the control of an identified pest, approval from the Environmental Protection Agency is required prior to importation. This way, justification for pesticide use must be established and the amount brought into the State may be monitored and if necessary, controlled. The draft regulations and the "Notice of Intent to Import Pesticides" form may also be found in Attachment A: Appendix II & IR.
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