SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico Buzz) – Vieques, PR residents are protesting a series of unannounced detonations and toxic fumes by the U.S. Navy as recent as July 27.
The detonations and toxic fumes took place within the Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Vieques.
A local environmental activist group is denouncing the unannounced and dangerous practice of detonations and open burning without the proper safety precautions.
“After six decades of bombardment and pollution, this town stands up to denounce this practice and demand the use of existing alternatives to clean our lands and sea,” said Myrna Pagán, a spokesperson for Vidas Viequenses Valen (Vieques Lives Matter.)
Ismael Guadalupe said in an interview for the Puerto Rico Buzz, that some felt the explosions while fishing at sea. He then compared the danger of the explosions to the ones that took the life of David Sanes, a U.S. Navy civilian contractor in Vieques with in 1999.
One of the issues that threatens Vieques residents is the proximity of the explosions and toxic fumes to families and island workers.
“What really caused an impression on me was how close to the civilian population these explosives detonated,” said Guadalupe, a member of the environmental activist group.
“The cleaning of Vieques is a farce, nothing is being cleaned,” said Pagán. We saw through our windows the columns of smoke spreading through the air and the toxic gas residues of the explosions caused by the U.S. Navy.
Although Pagán has grown accustomed to hearing explosions by now, the latest rounds of explosions may be among the strongest.
“It is among the strongest we have felt, but it is our daily bread,” said Pagán.
Residents who fish for a living, gather coconuts, and even hunt for crabs, are in imminent danger due to the explosions.
“Many people go in there to look for crabs, coconuts, and fish,” said Guadalupe. “They can kill somebody,” he said of the explosions.
No prior warnings were given to the residents. According to a VVV press release, the Environmental Protection Agency has said that at least 300 units have been detonated.
“Pagán called the EPA Environmental Protection Agency who told her they were destroying some 300 units closer to the border with the community,” according to the press release from VVV. If it Pagán would have not called, they would have never known.
“They have us without information,” said Pagán. They destroy the artillery and they do not allow us to prepare and protect ourselves from the harmful and lethal effects.
These explosions were unplanned and unannounced, said Guadalupe.
According to Guadalupe, Carmen Guerrero, the EPA head for the Caribbean, alleges that they have no control and this is even more dangerous.
“She is lying,” said Guadalupe. “She is trying to cover up for the Navy.”
All the agencies involved seem to have a different message, said Guadalupe. The government is not inspection what is happening here in Vieques.
Paul F. Walker, of Green Cross International, sent a memo to the Vieques Restoration Advisory Board on August 1st, requesting the implementation of safety standards used in the U.S. mainland.
“We know that many closed demilitarization technologies have been developed by the military and private industry over the past twenty years to provide more controlled and contained detonation and neutralization processes in order to protect the environment and public health of surrounding communities,” said Walker.
The Explosive Detonation System (EDS) developed by the US military is currently being used in Pueblo, Colorado for troublesome chemical weapons and has successfully destroyed 560 munitions to date. The Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) developed by Dynasafe in Sweden, is being deployed in Blue Grass, Kentucky, to destroy 15,000 chemical munitions. Kobe Steel in Japan has deployed several destruction chambers in China to destroy 750,000 or more old and abandoned chemical weapons. And our NATO allies in Europe have long used closed chambers in Belgium, Germany, and elsewhere to safely eliminate both conventional and chemical weapons from the two world wars.
We have reached out to the EPA and will publish their remarks in an upcoming article.
The U.S. Navy has not responded to a request for comments.
***CORRECTION*** August 3, 2017,1:52 p.m. – A previous version of this article stated that the explosions took place within civilian grounds. Upon additional clarification, the explosions were in close proximity to civilian grounds, but within Fish and Wildlife Refuge grounds.
The full text of the memo sent to the Vieques Restoration Advisory Board:
August 1, 2017
TO: Vieques Restoration Advisory Board (RAB)
FROM: Paul F. Walker, Green Cross International, Washington DC & Geneva, Switzerland
RE: Vieques Remediation and OB/OD
It’s been brought to our attention that the US Navy and its contractor, CH2M Hill, have recently been using open burn (OB) and/or open detonation (OD) to rid the island of Vieques of unexploded ordnance. While we continue to be very supportive of the remediation of Vieques from the last century’s military bombing practices, we believe it essential that the safest and most sustainable remediation practices are followed. While it is clear that in situ detonation practices are necessary in certain circumstances in order to reduce risk to workers, most old and abandoned ordnance can be safely destroyed by excavation, defused if necessary, removed, and eliminated in a variety of ways including closed detonation and/or neutralization.
I would urge the US Navy, CH2M Hill officials, and the RAB representatives to provide full information to the public regarding which weapons are being unearthed or brought to the surface from surrounding waters, including size, chemical content, munition type, and status (fused, non-fused, inert, etc); how these munitions are being destroyed and/or recycled; why the particular demilitarization process has been chosen; and whether any environmental and public health impact analysis has been done.
We know that many closed demilitarization technologies have been developed by the military and private industry over the past twenty years to provide more controlled and contained detonation and neutralization processes in order to protect the environment and public health of surrounding communities. The Explosive Detonation System (EDS) developed by the US military is currently being used in Pueblo, Colorado for troublesome chemical weapons and has successfully destroyed 560 munitions to date. The Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) developed by Dynasafe in Sweden, is being deployed in Blue Grass, Kentucky, to destroy 15,000 chemical munitions. Kobe Steel in Japan has deployed several destruction chambers in China to destroy 750,000 or more old and abandoned chemical weapons. And our NATO allies in Europe have long used closed chambers in Belgium, Germany, and elsewhere to safely eliminate both conventional and chemical weapons from the two world wars.
I will personally be contacting US Navy and CH2M Hill representatives to get more information about the ongoing remediation processes, and the rationale behind them, on Vieques, but I can be reached via email at [REDACTED] or by phone, [REDACTED]. But all this information should be readily available to the Vieques RAB and to the public. Thank you.
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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