2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 10:22:11 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] GLOBAL: Diego Garcia (in the middle of the Indian Ocean)
The UK's role in Diego Garcia: green fingers or red faces?

Mauritius Times
August 14, 2009

"It would be naïve to assume that the US will accept cohabitation with the Chagossians on its most valuable strategic base on Diego Garcia"
-- Peter H. Sand

Q. The case concerning the Chagos Islanders' right of return to their homeland is currently before the European Court of Human Rights. Now there is a move to set up an environment protection and preservation zone around the Chagos Archipelago. But is there another purpose besides preserving the environment? Sean Carey talks to Peter H. Sand about his new book, United States and Britain in Diego Garcia. Peter Sand is Lecturer in International Environmental Law at the University of Munich, Germany. He is a former legal adviser for the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.


Q. You write that 550 tons of low-grade uranium was transported from Iraq to Diego Garcia in 2008, which posed a considerable risk of nuclear contamination. This is in addition to the routine movement of nuclear-tipped missiles to and from the island. Yet neither the US nor the UK carries out any monitoring of radiation in the area. Why?

A. For more than 20 years now, the Diego Garcia lagoon has accommodated US nuclear-powered submarines. It is well-recorded that submarines of the same class have experienced radiation leakages, for example, in Japanese ports, as recently as 2006-08. To undertake measurements now would obviously raise embarrassing questions about the origin of any radioactive contamination in the lagoon and about the operational safety of those subs.

Q. You also highlight the disturbance to Diego Garcia's ecosystem by several oil spills made by the US military. Can you say something about the implications of this?

A. There was a series of major jet fuel spills from the huge storage tanks at Diego in 1984, 1991 (160,000 gallons lost), 1997 and 1998, which were not widely publicised. Some 70,000 gallons of fuel were later pumped back from the ground for direct re-use in the power plant of the base; but as of 2004, the spills had still not been fully cleared up. Since then no further information on fuel spills or their remediation has been disclosed.


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

Military mailing list

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] HEALTH, MUNITIONS: Vieques health review
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] VOCs: Ft. Meade (MD) sampling results
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] HEALTH, MUNITIONS: Vieques health review
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] VOCs: Ft. Meade (MD) sampling results

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index