10 Jul 2013
- By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor - email@example.com - Variety News Staff
GOVERNOR Eloy S. Inos is flying to Pagan today along with other CNMI officials to observe the U.S. Geological Survey project.
Last Tuesday at the inauguration of the $3.9 million state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center on Capital Hill, Governor Inos said, “I’m leaving for Pagan.”
The governor said he would be accompanying USGS personnel and the contractor to the volcanic island.
In a separate interview, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office Special Assistant Marvin K. Seman confirmed that they would be going today, Thursday, if weather permits.
He said four from the CNMI will be going: himself, HSEM seismic tech John T. Camacho, Press Secretary Angel Demapan and Inos.
“I’ll be taking them along and give them a tour,” said Seman adding that they would be discussing the project as they tour the site.
He said the project is a partnership with XRI, Army Corps of Engineers and CNMI government.
He said his office takes the lead in coordination.
Variety learned that the small contingent will be flying via Arctic Circle Air’s nine-seat Britten-Norman BN-2T twin turbine aircraft.
Seman said takes about an hour and half by plane; two hours by helicopter or 15 hours by boat.
Seman said they will be looking at the close to two months of work of 30 people who have been up there installing cameras and equipment.
The project will allow better understanding of the volcanic activity on Pagan.
“This project has been in the works for the last 10 years. We have been going back and forth,” he said.
He also said they have the latest technology and would like to test it out and Pagan is one of the best places in the world for this purpose.
Variety learned that seismic sensors, monitoring stations, and seismic cables to monitor Pagan’s volcanic activity have been installed.
The last major volcanic eruption on the island took place in 1981 and that led to the evacuation of the island’s few residents.
Seman said that up to 16 people live on Pagan all year round.
“There is a condition to staying there,” he said explaining that those who plan to be there must have the means to get there, must have 24/7 available communication, and must be able to evacuate the island immediately upon notice.
Pagan, the largest and one of the most active of the volcanoes in the Northern Marianas, and one of the 14 islands that comprise the CNMI, is currently being considered by the U.S. military for combined-level training alternatives with a full spectrum of weapons and joint-training activities.
Based on a military assessment, development of combined-level ranges and training areas on Pagan is feasible.