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Issue #1568      10 October 2012

Plan to halt bomb clean-up under fire

Public consultations ended in Puerto Rico last week over US plans to halt the clean-up of explosives on the island of Vieques, which was a US navy bombing range for decades.

The US says it is ready to declare the clean-up complete even though only about half of the 400-acre site, which is now a nature reserve, has been cleared of potentially live munitions debris.

Navy officials claim that it would hurt the area to tear up the dense vegetation to clear the remaining debris.

But activists insisting on a complete clean-up say the plan may have more to do with the cost of removing all the debris, estimated at US$50 million.

“It’s not a clean-up. It is an affront to Puerto Ricans that those responsible for the explosives would refuse to remove them,” said Puerto Rico Independence Party vice-president Maria de Lourdes Santiago.

Territorial Senate natural resources commissioner Jorge Fernandez Porto added: “You found this clean, you can’t just give it back full of bombs.

“I’m sorry if it’s costly. You should have thought about that before. Now you want to do the cheap version and leave the bombs there.”

Vieques was used as a bombing range from the 1940s until the US government agreed to give it up in 2003 after years of angry protests.

Morning Star  

Next article – Of bombs and comics

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