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  • Pacific Island Times News Staff

Underwater detonation rescheduled; Navy says impact mitigation system is in place

Seeking to allay public concerns over the planned underwater detonations in Outer Apra Harbor, the U.S. Navy said it "carefully follows mitigation procedures to ensure minimal impact to the environment." The underwater detonation training, which was originally scheduled for April 27 and 28, has been rescheduled for May 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. "The Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit will detonate four separate 1.25-pound explosives beneath the water’s surface away from coral and on a sandy bottom," the Joint Region Marianas said in a press release issued Monday.

"The Navy is permitted to routinely conduct underwater detonation training by the National Marine Fisheries Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Act," JRM said. "For the safety of personnel and marine life, the area will be visually cleared by divers and by a lookout on the surface before, during and after the exercise. All activity will cease temporarily if a person or marine mammal is seen in the area."

In an earlier announcement posted on the Federal Register on Friday, April 21, the Coast Guard acknowledged the “inherent danger” and “potential hazards” associated with underwater detonation. However, it said it would be unable to accommodate public comments. The Coast Guard said it is authorized to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” "I must vehemently disagree as this activity may negatively impact our local marine life habitat and the surrounding environment," Sen. Fernando Esteves said in a letter to Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, commander, Joint Region Marianas.

The senator asked the Navy to delay the training exercise to allow the community to speak up.

"Consideration and cooperation between the U.S. military and the local government are essential in American democracy and most especially in maintaining harmony within our unique island community. The people of Guam are not ignorant to the fact that extended through the Federal Government that the Department of Defense has near free reign on Guam’s waters. However, consistent reminders of Guam’s non-status as a non-self-governing territory such as these detonations of explosives are inconsiderate and dismissive to the local community," Esteves added.

Read earlier story here.

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