SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico Buzz) – The Environmental Protection Agency responds to recent claims of open burning and detonations, made by a Vieques activist group.
The Puerto Rico Buzz reached out to the EPA for answers.
We have included unedited detailed answers to the most pressing issues regarding the situation in Vieques. The images included are not part of the original interview, but have been added from different sources, including the EPA and the U.S. Navy, for additional background information.
Residents are claiming that there is open burning and open detonation of munitions on Vieques. Is this true and is it allowed?
EPA is aware of the concerns from some members of the public and we have discussed these concerns with the community. Controlled burning of vegetation occurs only in an area within the former 75-acre live impact area, which is known to contain submunitions. Submunitions are small explosive devices which were released from larger cluster munitions. The 75-acre Submunitions Area contains thousands of dangerous submunitions that are found on the soil surface and are hidden under vegetation. These submunitions are sensitive to shocks and can explode if they are moved or altered in any way. This situation poses a very high risk for anyone who can enter the area, including residents, tourists, wildlife managers and cleaning workers. In order for cleaners to see submunitions, avoid accidental contact and dispose of submunitions safely, vegetation must be removed. The Navy has determined that the only safe method for removal of vegetation is to conduct small controlled burns. Each burn is approximately 2 acres.
Controlled detonation of munitions items does occur. The most recent meeting with EPA and the community was with the Restoration Advisory Board this past Tuesday, August 1; the last meeting before Tuesday was in May 2016. EPA has evaluated the use of a detonation chamber, but its use is impractical on Vieques for several reasons. For example, some of the munitions found exceed the maximum explosive capacity that can be used in a mobile or portable detonation chamber. Also, many of the munitions cannot be moved because they were armed and fired, but for some reason did not detonate; under these circumstances, moving them is dangerous.
What did community members mean when they say that “300 units were being disposed”?
This latest controlled detonation event was undertaken to address 300 munitions-related items. The number of munitions items addressed can vary from event to event.
Was the community alerted about this before it took place?
The Navy provides notification to the regulatory agencies and the Municipality of Vieques before detonation events, which take place many times throughout the year. It did so for this event. EPA has had many discussions with the Navy over the years about how it might improve its notification procedures for the community-at-large, and will engage in those conversations again. The Navy has cited safety concerns in not broadcasting this information, as someone might try to view the event if they knew when it was scheduled, possibly putting themselves in harm’s way.
What steps are being taken for the safety of the residents of Vieques?
Detonation events take place on land controlled by the Navy. The areas where detonations take place are surrounded by a buffer/security area that extends beyond the calculated debris limits of the detonation events. Each event is carefully planned to assure that it safely destroys the munitions in place.
Air monitoring of the controlled burning of vegetation is conducted before, during, and after the burn events to assess air quality. No exceedances of established standards have been noted. This is consistent with previously conducted air monitoring. Since 2005, over 1,400 air samples have been collected during more than 160 detonation events. Monitoring was conducted from 8 hours before until 16 hours after the detonation events. Over the years, numerous accidental brush fires have occurred, and air data were often collected during and after these events. Over 50 air samples were collected during 19 accidental brush fires (which ranged from 1 to 300 acres). No pollutants associated with munitions or explosives were detected during any of the air monitoring events. With one exception (located on the site itself), all PM10 concentrations were below National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The exception occurred in 2006 and only slightly exceeded the standard. For monitoring stations near populated areas PM10 was always below standards.
If you are invested in reading additional reports and official information from the U.S. Navy and the EPA, you can access the links below. Images used within this article are found within these reports.
Puerto Rico is Open for Tourists
(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Buzz) – Travelocity® and Expedia Media Solutions®, in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, are ramping up efforts to help shift public perception of the situation in Puerto Rico, this week.
“Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for travelers, as well as a fantastic, long-term partner, and we jumped at the chance to work with Travelocity to support the Puerto Rico Tourism Company,” said Wendy Olson Killion, global senior director for Expedia Media Solutions. “The collaborative campaign will ensure new and repeat visitors know Puerto Rico is again open for tourism, and that tourism will positively impact the island’s economy and contribute to recovery efforts.”
Approximately 68,000 locals are employed in the tourism sector, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. With this importance to the economy, the simple and enjoyable act of visiting Puerto Rico can make a huge difference. For more information on the Island, travelers can also visit SeePuertoRico.com.
“We are thrilled to have our Travelocity and Expedia partners join in spreading the word that the Island is, in fact, open for tourism,” said Carla Campos, acting executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. “It is with pride and hospitality, traits that characterize our people, that we welcome visitors with open arms, because coming to visit us is the best way to support us right now.”
The campaign, which was donated on behalf of Travelocity and Expedia Media Solutions, includes on site advertising placements, a dedicated page highlighting the hotels and resorts that are open for business in Puerto Rico, and useful content about the country on the Travelocity “Inspire” blog.
Travelocity is offering $150 off a $1500 package booking with code CARIBNOW from now until February 6th, 2018 for travel between now and September 16th, 2018. For full terms and conditions visit http://travelocity.us/PuertoRico.
Rosselló Asks Police Officers to Return to Work
(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Buzz) – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asked members of the Puerto Rico Police Department to return to work, Jan. 8.
The massive absenteeism of police officers has been largely attributed to the lack of overtime pay in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, but some say it goes back even further.
“I ask of any partner of the uniformed force that is not attending [work]at this moment – I ask of them to return,” said Rosselló. It’s not just about giving a message about a series of initiatives, but it’s a matter of safety for our people.
Rosselló is currently evaluating how police officers that missed work, will be reprimanded.
“We’re establishing which administrative measures will take place,” said Rosselló. There’s a lot of information that needs to be gathered.
At times, approximately 8,000 police officers have missed worked, out of about 14,000 islandwide.
Police union representatives have said that police officers are using their sick and holiday time available.
Watch Carmen Yulín Suck Up a Load of Bribe Cash
(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Buzz) – Here we go again. Another Carmen Yulín appearance on The Simpsons.
Spoiler alert: Donald Trump tries to bribe Robert Mueller with a room full of cash. Mueller leaves.
Then Carmen Yulín walks into the room dressed as a housemaid before revealing her usual “comandante de la revolución” outfit.
Yulín then pulls out a vacuum cleaner to suck up the loads of American cold-hard-cash bribe money.
Mueller Meets Trump, Season 29
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) December 14, 2017
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