CNMI joins Guam in PFAS class litigation

(PNC file photo)

Following the selection of six firms to serve as legal experts in the upcoming PFAS litigation effort, the Office of the Attorney General has announced that the CNMI has joined the fight against water contamination in the region.

According to an update from the Guam Office of the Attorney General, the island’s solicitations for expert legal services allowed firms to extend their proposals to the CNMI and after evaluating the offers, CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan selected the PFAS litigation team for assistance on the issue.

Regarding the prevalence of PFAS in the Marianas, the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation — the governmental entity that operates the electric, water, and wastewater services on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota — issued a report last week that it detected high levels of the substance in 12 villages on Saipan and advised consumers to avoid ingesting water from those areas.

Short for polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS refers to a group of artificial chemicals that do not deteriorate and can cause adverse health effects such as birth defects, certain cancers, and changes to the immune system. While they can be found in food packaging and furniture, they can also contaminate water supplies.

The affected area in question was the As Terlaje Tank in Saipan, which was found last May to have had a concentration of 138 parts per trillion, exceeding the U-S Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.

PNC reached out to Attorney General Manibusan regarding their progress concerning the PFAS litigation effort, but did not receive a response as of newstime.