Friday, November 20, 2009

EIS gives clues to buildup activities

EIS gives clues to buildup activities

By Amritha Alladi • Pacific Daily News • November 21, 2009

Within the thousands of pages of Draft Environmental Impact Statement documents that became public for the first time yesterday, clues abound as to how Guam could change with the looming military buildup.

Here's a quick glance of some of the proposed changes on Guam if the draft becomes final -- a decision likely reached at some point next year, according to military time lines:

# An Army missile defense's administrative offices will share a vast location in the Finegayan area with the preferred Marine Corps base in Finegayan;

# A population boom that, at the height of the military buildup activities, will add 79,178 people to the island -- approximately half the number of people currently on the island;

# Military projects that will require between 600 and 1,100 acres of mostly military-owned and other federal government-controlled land; and

# More waterfront space and support facilities for aircraft carrier visits.

The EIS gives Guam residents the first concrete idea of how Guam is expected to change as a result of the military buildup on Guam.

The population explosion itself is expected to strain an already overburdened utilities, which would require infrastructure improvements -- if the Defense Department continues to be a customer of both the Guam Waterworks Authority and Guam Power Authority.

The preferred utilities option for the buildup, according to the EIS, is for the Defense Department to become a bigger customer of GWA and GPA.

For solid waste, the DOD will use the existing landfill at Apra Harbor until the new public landfill at Layon, which the local government is paying for, is ready, the EIS states.

The buildup on Guam, according to the EIS, may include:

# the shift of 8,600 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam;

# the construction of a new deep wharf in Apra Harbor to support a transient nuclear powered aircraft carrier; and

# development of facilities and infrastructure to support relocating about 600 military personnel and their 900 dependents to establish and operate an Army Missile Defense Task Force facility in the Finegayan region.

Marine base, housing

Of eight alternatives that were originally generated for the main area designated for the Marines' headquarters and administrative support, housing, open storage, as well as retail, school, recreational, medical and day care services -- four continue to be analyzed.

All of them would take anywhere from 600 to 1,100 acres of land that has, so far, been established to protect endangered or threatened species of wildlife and vegetation in the Overlay Refuge in Finegayan, according to the EIS.

The Defense Department prefers using existing DOD land parcels from the Naval Computer Telecommunications Stations in Finegayan, South Finegayan, and long-term leasing of Federal Aviation Administration lands for the main Marine base area. This area would be bound on the north by the Andersen Air Force Base and Route 3, the cliffline and Philippine Sea to the west, a limited residential development on the east, and the Harmon Village residential area to the south, according to the EIS.

This alternative would develop just over half of the Overlay Refuge area.

But the DOD has also suggested three alternatives to this arrangement that would infringe less on the Overlay Refuge and instead place military housing facilities and quality of life services outside the main Marine base area. These alternatives could lead to the removal of the Navy golf course or the acquisition or long-term lease of private lands in the Harmon Annex.
Army missile defense task force

The Defense Department would prefer that the Marine Corps base in Finegayan share a location with the proposed administrative offices and support facilities for the planned Army Missile Defense Task Force, according to the EIS.

This option would require the housing and headquarters for the Army facility to be "co-located" in the eastern portion of the NCTS in Finegayan, adjacent to the proposed Marine Corps housing and administrative units. Housing units for the task force personnel could be co-located with Marine Corps units in South Finegayan, the EIS states.

Another possible site for the task force headquarters and all of its housing units could potentially be placed within Navy property in Barrigada, according to the EIS.

Air field, aircraft carrier facilities

The DOD plans to construct an airfield at the North Ramp of Andersen Air Force Base while the South Ramp would serve as an air embarkation facility.

There are no alternative sites for the construction of the airfield at Andersen.

On the other hand, there are two alternatives being considered for aircraft carrier berthing, both of which require widening of the Outer Apra Harbor by 600 feet.

The DOD has shown preference for the construction of a wharf at Polaris Point, which calls for dredging of 600 feet in the Inner Apra Harbor to meet aircraft carrier requirements.

An alternative location at the former Navy ship repair facility would meet the aircraft carrier requirements without having to dredge.

The document states that damage caused to the reef as a result of dredging may be mitigated with watershed management projects and artificial reef construction. Both wharf locations are on Navy submerged lands and would affect man-made coastlines, according to the EIS.

Guam residents have until Feb. 17, 2010, to comment and provide feedback on the draft EIS.

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