Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Audit of Solid Waste Management of Pohnpei State Released

Palikir, Pohnpei (Office of the FSM National Public Auditor): July 12, 2010 - - The Office of the National Public Auditor (ONPA) and the Pohnpei State Office of the Public Auditor announce the release of Audit Report No. 2010-08 entitled Audit of Solid Waste Management of Pohnpei State. The audit was conducted as part of a project facilitated by the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) that included audits of solid waste management practices of ten participating member nations.

The purpose of the audit was to assess solid waste policies and practices on Pohnpei, including the management of the existing dump site; the extent to which progress is being made towards creation of an environmentally sound landfill; and the adequacy of other activities impacting the collection, processing, and disposal of solid waste. Specific objectives included determining whether a policy for solid waste management exists and the extent to which it has been implemented, as well as evaluating whether appropriate parties are in compliance and being properly monitored.

The audit found that while a legal and policy framework for Solid Waste Management exists, there are questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of the national and state government. It is unclear as to whether the national Project Management Unit for amended compact projects or Pohnpei State is responsible for ensuring that landfill architectural and engineering design studies are completed. These studies are critical towards completion of a project that will result in replacement of the Dekehtik dump site with a landfill to be placed elsewhere on the island.

Additionally, the legal framework is impacted by the country's structure as a federation. Resolution is needed to the question of whether jurisdiction over the management of hazardous wastes and chemicals resides exclusively with the national government, or is exercised concurrently by the national and the state governments. Similarly the question of whether FSM's ratification of an international treaty empowers the national government to implement domestically the requirements of the treaty, even if that means legislating over matters that would otherwise be solely within state jurisdiction, also needs to be resolved.

Moreover, because of the question of jurisdictional authority, as well as a lack of subject matter expertise and competing priorities, neither the FSM Department of Justice (DOJ) nor the Office of Environment and Emergency Management (EEM) have produced draft legislation regarding pollution control and hazardous substances for Presidential review and Congressional consideration.

The audit also revealed that seven years after development of the FSM Infrastructure Development Plan, there has been minimal progress towards implementation of the solid waste management infrastructure project. As a result, the plan's goal of opening the landfill in 2011 will not occur and the Dekehtik dumpsite will continue to be used. A Waste Minimization Study and a Landfill Plan need to occur to guide development of the landfill.

Continued use of the Dekehtik dump site is problematic because it does not have the necessary safeguards to prevent pollution from entering the lagoon or soil; the site attracts disease carrying rodents, and is generally considered an eyesore. In order for the landfill to open, Pohnpei must dedicate a location, various environmental and engineering studies must be conducted, and then the site must be constructed. Based on the original project timeline and the progress made to date, the landfill will not be ready for use until the year 2017 at the earliest.

The audit concluded that strong political leadership and prioritization of the landfill plan is needed in order to achieve the goal of replacing the dump site with a landfill. No singular agency has taken the lead in ensuring that progress continues in a timely manner. Other priorities compete for staff and agency attention, involvement of agencies at both the national and state levels has created confusion over jurisdictional authority and project responsibility, and the fact that waste management involves both environmental and land use policy have hindered progress.

The audit also found that while both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pohnpei Department of Transportation and Infrastructure monitor practices at the dump, other activities relating to solid waste management practices are either not monitored or enforcement does not exist to ensure compliance with the EPA regulation. Of particular concern, hospital waste, which is considered hazardous and should be incinerated on site, is transported to the dump and it is not incinerated. Additionally, no effective enforcement efforts are made to ensure that storage of garbage at residential and commercial sites is done in compliance with EPA regulations, or that garbage is taken to the dump instead of being burned or buried.

The audit report offers several recommendations to address the issues discussed above. First and foremost, the report recommends that relevant national and state agencies with legal and environmental authority collectively determine roles and responsibilities for all parties involved in solid waste management issues and that appropriate communication protocols be developed. The report also recommends that DOJ and EEM take action on the jurisdictional issues by producing draft legislation for Presidential review and submittal to Congress. It is recommended that PMU initiate the procurement process so that a contractor can be hired to complete the Minimization Study needed for landfill planning purposes and that EPA develop strategies to either enforce or increase voluntary compliance with EPA regulations pertaining to solid waste storage and transfer and hazardous waste disposal.

The report is available for public review and download at the Auditor's website and print copies are available at the Auditor's offices in Palikir, Pohnpei and Weno, Chuuk. For more information, please contact the FSM Office of the National Public Auditor by e-mail at or at 320.2860/2862.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356