2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 12:41:54 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] MUNITIONS, REUSE: Vieques - Fish, Wildlife, and Bombs
Fish, Wildlife, and Bombs: The Struggle to Clean Up Vieques

by Katherine T. McCaffrey
NACLA Report
September-October, 2009

In May 2003, after hundreds of arrests, marches, and constant pickets, mass protest forced the U.S. Navy off Vieques, Puerto Rico. Since World War II, the navy had maintained one of its key military installations in the Western Hemisphere on this 51-square-mile island, located six miles off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. Yet Vieques was also home to 10,000 U.S. citizens who lived sandwiched between an ammunition depot and a military training area. The navy test-fired both land-based and naval artillery, as well as small arms. It rehearsed amphibious landing exercises, parachute drops, and submarine maneuvers. The navy bombed Vieques from air, land, and sea. In the 1980s and 1990s, the navy trained an average of 180 days per year and dropped or fired an average of 1,464 tons of bombs and explosives annually on Vieques. In 1998, the last year before protest interrupted maneuvers, the navy dropped 23,000 bombs on the island, most of which contained live explosives.

After six decades of intensive military training, residents are preoccupied with cleaning up the island. Dangerous levels of cadmium and lead appear in the island's crabs. Lead is concentrated in pasture grass grazed by horses and cattle. Ordnance occasionally washes ashore. Such contamination from heavy metals, and other toxins poses major environmental and health concerns. For example, the island's cancer rate is 27% higher than the rest of Puerto Rico, raising troubling questions about the military's toxic legacy and its short- and long-term impact on islanders' health.


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

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