Saturday, February 20, 2010

Guam calls for transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to be delayed

Guam calls for transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to be delayed

Feb 17 02:28 AM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (AP) - (Kyodo) — The congresswoman who represents Guam in the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday that the 2014 deadline for completing the planned transfer of about 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the Pacific island should be delayed so that the island can better prepare for the upcoming surge in population.

"One of the most troubling aspects of the draft environmental impact statement (for the military buildup on Guam) is that all assumptions are based on projects being completed by 2014," Democrat Madeleine Bordallo said in an address to Guam's legislature. The text of her speech was made available on her website.

"This flawed assumption has drawn consequences and conclusions that are not sustainable and not supported by anyone," Bordallo said.

In addition to relocating about 8,600 Marines and 9,000 family members from the southernmost Japanese prefecture, the buildup plan for the island includes the establishment of an Army Missile Defense Task Force and the construction of a wharf for use by the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

According to a recent report by Stars and Stripes, a Pentagon- authorized newspaper for U.S. military personnel overseas, the buildup calls for "adding nearly 80,000 people to Guam's 178,000 population during the height of construction in 2014." The 80,000 is believed to include a large number of temporary workers who will come to the island to engage in construction work necessary for the buildup.

Bordallo said among concerns associated with the buildup is "the lack of a comprehensive plan for the housing of guest workers and providing for their health care needs in a manner that does not further overwhelm our local infrastructure and health care system."

"We cannot allow guest worker housing off-base to cause the faucets to run dry or power outages in our homes," she said, adding she will not support "appropriations and authorizations that will result in a construction pace that brings 80,000 people to Guam in 2014."

Bordallo's call for the buildup plan to be delayed follows a similar request by Guam Gov. Felix Camacho to the U.S. military last month.

The relocation of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam is linked to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station within Okinawa, which is also eyed in the same time frame.

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