|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||11 Aug 2005 15:40:44 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Vieques health letter|
Puerto Rico Updates & News Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA August 10, 2005
Humanitarian Organizations Urge Attention to Health Needs in Vieques
Leaders of 23 humanitarian and faith-based organizations in the United States concerned about environment and social justice in Vieques, Puerto Rico, requested that the Governor of Puerto Rico act affirmatively to improve the environmental and health condition of the people of Vieques. The groups called "intolerable" the fact that the local hospital in Vieques does not offer cancer treatment, forcing Viequenses who are cancer survivors to travel by ferry to Fajardo, PR, and then for another hour by car to the San Juan area for treatment.
Viequenses continue to be subjected to the open detonation of explosives. The Navy is removing unexploded ordnance (UXOs) by what it claims is the fastest and cheapest method, the detonation of the UXOs where they are found (Blow in Place, BIP). But the process releases many toxins into the air, water and eventually into the soil.
"The Navy's plan totally disregards its obligation to protect public health and the commitment to mitigate further contamination of the air and soil," the groups said in a statement. The signers include directors of the National Council of La Raza, the National Puerto Rico Coalition, the Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA, and Pax Christi USA.
The letter was delivered only a few days after Vieques residents defied restrictions imposed by federal agencies, camping on the island's former bombing range and calling for an end to the open detonation of explosives. This week, Vieques community leaders will raise the issue in meetings with Puerto Rico and the Navy.
The groups urged the Governor to require that the cleanup standard on Vieques make the lands and waters suitable for human use, and that the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board be vigilant and assertive participants in all agreements that will govern the island's cleanup. They encouraged the Governor to persist with demand that the Navy find ecological alternatives to Blow in Place (BIP) for the removal of UXOs from the island, recognize the human health and environmental risk in Vieques, and make it a high priority for funding cleanup.
For background on Vieques environmental and health issues: http://www.forusa.org/programs/puertorico/default.html
-- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/961-8918 http://www.cpeo.org
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