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Vieques Blog

Long Time Clean up for Vieques

Diario la Prensa: 25 Noember 2007
(English translation by CRDV; article Asoc. Press 25 Nov.)

The clean up of contamiantion caused on Vieques soil by nearly 60 years of military practices could take more than a decade, according to the director of the EPA in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Carl Axel Soderberg.

Although he warned it is still unknown how long it will take and how much it will cost to do the work on the island municipality, the official remembered the case of the Hawaiian island of Kaholawe - smaller than Vieques - where authorities needed more than ten years at a cost of over 900 million dollars to remove military contamination there.

"We will not know the cost of cleanup because it happens in stages. It's going to take a very long time to clean the East end of Vieques", Soderberg said in a radio interview (WPUC). Soderberg indicated, also, that clean up
cannot begin until all the unexploded ordnance still being found in the area used as a bombing range by the US Navy have been detonated.

"The detonation continues of all the live munitions found and, until this is finished, we cannot begin the clean up phase, as is done traditionally at Superfund Sites," sustained Soderberg.

"Until now, the detonation of explosives and studies begun when the Navy left in May of 2003 have a cost of 70 million dollars, and we still don't know when this phase will end, since more live munitions and bombs than expected continue to appear," admitted Soderberg. He assured that as part of the elimination of munitions, aire monitors were installed and that no abnormal contamination levels have been registered to date. It is expected that in March details of the clean up phase for the bombing range will be

"In September an public announcement called for comments on the protocol to follow for Vieques decontamination. The comment period ended last week, EPA, Interior Department, PR Environmental Quality Board have to evaluate the comments and decide on modifications to the plan", he said. On Friday, the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques asked for more time to react to the agreement between Puerto Rican and federal government agencies about the clean up and decontamination process on Vieques.

Robert Rabin, spokesperson for the Committee, described as 'very incorrect, innapropriate' that this agreement has been prepared without Vieques community participation.

The project manager for the decontamination of Vieques for the EPA, Daniel Rodríguez, did not reject possibilities for extending the period that closed on November 13.

The Navy left Vieques in 2003 after a campaign of protests provoked by the death of a Viequense civilian security guard killed by two errant bombs in 1999.

The Navy began its Vieques training in 1948 after expropriating lands for which it paid 53 dollars an acre to begin war exercises that exposed residents to the horrendous explosions.


See also:
Exploding the Explosives in Vieques
Brief Notes for Tourists Coming to Vieques

vieques book
A combination coffee table book and guide containing more than 150 color photographs described by Roberto Rabin, curator of the Vieques Museum, Conde de Mirasol, as “graphic, mysterious and beautiful.” It is also a guide to the beaches, towns and places of interest on the island including the famous Bioluminescent Bay. Click for more information
Before Vieques became a cause celebre for Al Sharpton, Edward James Olmos, Bobby Kennedy Jr, et el, there was USMAÍL...Now for the first time USMAÍL is appearing in an English-language edition making what is considered a Puerto Rican literary classic available to a wider audience of English readers...San Juan Star. Click for more information