Thursday, January 07, 2010

PNC :: Buildup Hearing Filled with Anti-Buildup Sentiments

PNC :: Buildup Hearing Filled with Anti-Buildup Sentiments

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Guam – The Southern High Cafeteria was filled with residents both curious and eager to speak publicly about the imminent military buildup.

This is where the Joint Guam Program office held the first of it's series of public hearings on the the Draft Environmental Impact Statement or D.E.I.S. In essence the D.E.I.S outlines the military's plans for Guam and the potential impacts to the island as a result of the buildup. The D.E.I.S. Which is thousands of pages long covers everything from environmental impacts, to social and cultural impacts, to economic impacts. It was released in late November and tonight residents had a chance to provide public comments that will be recorded and factored into the Department of Defenses final decisions. The overwhelming majority of people present were either opposed to the military buildup as a whole or opposed to specific plans present in the DEIS. Speaker after speaker raised concerns about buildup ranging from the dredging of the Apra Harbor, to Land Acquisition. Senator BJ Cruz spoke about the need to test soil dredged from the Harbor for nuclear contaminants. According to the senator although extensive tests were done for the presence of metals none has been conducted for the presence of nuclear waste. This despite the fact that a submarine leaked nuclear material into the harbor just a couple of years ago. Others like Chammorro Tribe Chairman Frank Schacher spoke about his prior service with the US military and how he now feels betrayed. Schacher spoke about the changes to the island and the negative impacts an influx of non-native people would have on the Chamorro language culture and customs. Other concerns brought up by various speakers included concerns about the limited water resources, contamination of the island and it's aquifer, salinization of the aquifer, the acquisition of land, the access to hiking trails and traditional fishing and hunting grounds, and the overall environmental impacts to island. Not all spoke against the military buildup however. Some like Chamber of Commerce President Dave Leddy spoke in favor of it. Leddy touted among other things the economic impacts and the improvements to infrastructure. Overall however most of the comments given were either against the buildup as a whole or against specific sections of the DEIS.

Written by : Clynt Ridgell

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