Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Residents voice buildup concerns: Final Guam hearing tonight at Okkodo

Residents voice buildup concerns: Final Guam hearing tonight at Okkodo

By Brett Kelman • Pacific Daily News bmkelman@guampdn.com • January 12, 2010

The coming military buildup will bring more planes, more missions -- and more noise -- to northern Guam in the next few years.

Additional noise will fuel more frustration and create more uncomfortable nights for some concerned residents of Yigo and Dededo. Some of them attended a buildup hearing last night.

There are residents like Leodith Abinales, 21, who hated the noise at first but somehow learned to live with it. There are others like Gwendolyn Nelson Taimanglo, who lives just far enough from the runways that jet engines frighten her every time.

If that noise grows more frequent after the buildup, Taimainglo will be "stuck," she said.

The peaceful Wusstig home she has spent so much time and money on will be peaceful no longer, she said.

"An uncomfortable life," she said last night. "It would be like when we have a typhoon and the power is off and everyone's generator is on. You can withstand it for a certain period of time, but then after a while it physically and emotionally wears you out."

Last night's hearing also brought some of the most passionate objection to the buildup from protesters, landowners and a few local senators.

Although aircraft zip in and out of Andersen Air Force Base every day, Taimainglo lives too far away to hear the daily traffic overhead. The aircraft that do come close rattle her sliding glass doors and shake the furniture on the second floor.

"It freaks you out," she said.

According to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, this aircraft activity at Andersen is expected to skyrocket in the next few years. There were about 30,000 flights at Andersen in 2006 and will be more than 99,000 by 2014.

And at least some of these additional flights will happen at night, the draft EIS states.

These additional flights will also create noise in off-base areas where planes and helicopters aren't heard overhead today.

At almost 1,700 acres where aircraft make no noticeable noise today, aircraft from buildup will generate noise at least as loud as a car 100 feet away, the draft EIS states. And the area where aircraft make as much noise as a vacuum cleaner will increase by almost 730 acres.

The jets already sound like a vacuum at Abinales' house, which is barely a mile from the back gate of Andersen.

And the neighborhood dogs bark like crazy every time, she said.

The noise bothered her years ago, but she got used to it. Still, some jets are louder than others and the loudest ones can't be ignored.

"I love jets when they fly through the sky and stuff, but when you want to watch your favorite movie or read or study for school, it's just not nice," she said. "It definitely doesn't help you."


Although protesters have been present at every public hearing on the military buildup, last night they couldn't be missed. Moments before the public comments began, a group of protesters marched into the middle of the Yigo gym to sing and speak.

Danny Jackson led the group dressed only in a shell necklace and a loincloth. His grandson walked by his side, blowing a conch-shell horn called a ku'lu.

Speaker Judith Won Pat and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz were at the front of the group.

Jackson urged his fellow islanders to stand against the buildup in his native language.

"If we don't do it now, we will be destroyed by the federal government atrocities in our own homeland," Jackson said later, in English.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan said the federal government was purposely spreading lies about the buildup to deceive residents. The crowd erupted in applause as he spoke.

Pangelinan said the buildup is only in the best interest of mainlanders.

He said only off-island companies will benefit from the buildup's economic boost. He said expanded military installations will ruin the environment and destroy artifacts and cultural sites without the public ever knowing.

"I don't want (the military) desecrating those ancestral burial grounds. I don't want (the military) bombing and shooting the spirits of our ancestors that rest in Pagat," Pangelinan said.

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