Guam senators hit Navy's underwater detonations
Guam senators on Friday introduced a resolution urging the Department of Defense to cease the use of Guam’s land and waters as a training ground for the detonation of explosives.
Resolution No. 103-34 was prompted by the recent Coast Guard announcement about underwater detonations at Apra Harbor, originally scheduled for April 27 and 28. The Coast Guard said it could not solicit public comments due to time constraints.
Following a barrage of angry comments on social media, the Joint Region Marianas announced that the underwater exercise has been moved to May 18. The Navy indicated four separate 1.25 lbs explosives will be detonated.
The May detonations are scheduled as part of the Navy’s training and testing activities that fall under the defined Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) “Study Area.”
“The proposed detonations at Outer Apra Harbor and Piti are but just a few that may be lined up by the Navy. Whether big or small, the people of Guam continue to deal with the adverse environmental and social impacts of previous detonation of explosives in Guam’s land and waters. Until those are adequately resolved, we urge that further DoD detonation of explosives be ceased,” Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje said.
In July 2015, the Navy signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the MITT Final Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS), which defined the MITT Study Area as sea-based ranges and land-based areas that allow the Navy to conduct training and testing activities that include the use of active sonar and explosives.
The MITT Study Area encompasses the entire ocean area under the Mariana Islands Range Complex and expands the range of the DoD training area to 984,469 square nautical miles – larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined. Following the issuance of the ROD, a MITT letter of authorization was signed permitting the Navy to conduct numerous detonations over a five-year period.
“Through this type of permitting the Navy may conduct an average of nearly 12,580 detonations of various magnitudes per year for 5 years, and 81,962 takings of 26 different marine mammal species per year for 5 years,” said Terlaje, one of the 12 sponsors of the resolution. “Even if they say these underwater explosions are minor, cumulatively and over time this is just too much of a burden on our land and our waters.”
Resolution 103-34 (LS) was introduced by Terlaje, Frank B. Aguon, Jr., Thomas C. Ada, Telena C. Nelson, Joe San Agustin, Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Régine Biscoe Lee, Fernando Esteves, William M. Castro, Tommy Morrison and Louise B. Muña,
To read the resolution, go to: http://senatorterlaje.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Res.-No.-103-34-LS.pdf