2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: mtptara@ime.net
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 15:50:18 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Sign-On letter to President Clinton re Vieques directive
The Military Toxics Project urges everyone to sign on to the
following letter to President Clinton regarding the use of Vieques,
Puerto Rico for military training and issues related to cleanup of
the island.  Please respond by the end of this FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18.
For more information, contact Tara Thornton at the Military Toxics Project: 
<mtptara@ime.net>  Toll free: 1-877-783-5091 or John Lindsay-Poland of the 
Fellowship of Reconciliation at 415-495-6334

I am signing the letter to President Clinton on Vieques
___Please indicate whether organization is listed for identification
purposes only

Send to: <mtptara@ime.net>

Text of letter:

February 18, 2000

President William Jefferson Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our dismay with the January 31, 
2000 Directive to the Secretary of Defense and the Director, Office and 
Management and Budget regarding use of the range facilities on Vieques, 
Puerto Rico.  As we approach the sixth anniversary of your signing of the 
Executive Order on Environmental Justice (12898), we urge you to reconsider 
this directive.

We believe that, the people of Vieques have spoken loudly and clearly, "Not 
one more bomb, not one more minute".  They want the Navy to stop military 
training exercises, clean up the contamination which litters the island and 
the surrounding surface water, and which may be buried in the soils of the 
island or may be polluting its groundwater, and return the land to the 
people of Vieques.  In fact, the Vieques Special Commission appointed by 
Governor Rossello and which was broadly representative of Puerto Rican 
society, unanimously recommended that the Navy cease and desist all 
activity on Vieques.

The directive sets in place a referendum process, which does not permit the 
one option which all sectors of Vieques and Puerto Rico have urged: the 
immediate suspension of all military training on Vieques and the clean up 
of lands contaminated by military activities.  At best, the directive would 
permit another three years of bombing with inadequate provisions for clean 
up.  The Navy would resume training and continue at least until May 2003.

The directive calls for cleanup of the eastern side of Vieques consistent 
with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability 
Act (CERCLA) except for the Live Impact Area, which will be swept for 
ordnance and fenced off.  Under CERCLA, there is a careful process, which 
includes public participation, environmental studies, remedial 
investigations etc. to determine the best possible clean up option.  The 
final remedy is then chosen in a Record of Decision (ROD).  Any remediation 
of the impact area as well as the rest of the facility is subject to 
regulation by environmental regulatory authorities under existing 
environmental statutes. This directive supersedes the congressionally 
mandated process and therefore, we question its legality.

The impact area is written off with no attempt whatsoever to evaluate the 
prospect of clearing it of unexploded ordnance and with no discussion of 
the reliability of using fences alone as the sole long-term means of 
keeping people from being injured or killed by the ordnance. The directive 
invokes the "Weymouth" standard for removal of ordnance and other 
contaminants, in an apparent reference to the naval Air Station at South 
Weymouth, Massachusetts. This facility included an island known as "No 
Man's Land" which is uninhabited, and which even fishermen do not approach 
as a result of ordnance contamination.  Moreover, the final level of clean 
up has not yet been determined and is a matter of conflict between the Navy 
and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This standard is unacceptable for 
Vieques, which relies heavily on fishing and tourism for its economic well 
being.  We recommend the standard adopted for the impact area at Camp 
Edwards on Cape Cod Massachusetts as being appropriate.

The directive states,  'In the event the people of Vieques decide to allow 
the military to continue training, OMB will request Congressional funding 
for enhancement of infrastructure and housing on the Western portions of 
Vieques in the amount of 50 million dollars'.  Such funds, which face 
uncertainty at best in the Congress, are inadequate to address the 
environmental and health impacts of the Navy's activities on Vieques, and 
would not address the fundamental ways in which military training on 
Vieques has prevented economic development for the benefit of the island's 

While the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has 
already initiated a health assessment, we have little confidence it will 
address the health problems of Vieques residents resulting from military 
activities.  For small populations, such as that of Vieques, the kinds of 
epidemiological studies that ATSDR typically uses are inappropriate and 
inconclusive. Often, ATSDR studies have been used inappropriately as a tool 
to allay community concerns without disclosing the limitations of the 
studies. Instead of protecting the public, ATSDR studies have been used as 
public reassurances.  We recommend that the Department of Defense bear the 
cost of a health study of Vieques residents undertaken by independent 
experts selected by residents of the local community.

Your directive calls for the implementation of management plans from a 
memorandum of understanding that is 17 years old. Given the Navy's record 
of deception and noncompliance with Commonwealth and federal laws in 
Vieques, why should the citizens of Vieques trust this directive?  There 
are no mechanisms in place to enforce it, and the Navy's record in Vieques 
has destroyed public faith in its promises regarding the range.

Finally, it is unrealistic to expect that land on the western side of the 
island could be transferred by December 31, 2000.  This allows just 9 
months for clean up and restoration consistent with CERCLA standards.

We request that Attorney General Janet Reno rule on the legality of all 
parts of this directive, particularly the question of superseding CERCLA 
legislation by Presidential directive.

We urge Ms. Reno not to use the resources of the Justice Department to 
forcibly remove the peaceful demonstrators from the impact area on Vieques. 
 We believe that this is not legitimate use of power of our government and 
that it entails the possibility of extreme harm to both demonstrators and 
law enforcement officers.

We urge you, Mr. President to reverse this directive, give back the island 
to the citizens of Vieques and ensure an environmental clean up that 
guarantees public participation and is protective of human health, culture 
and the environment.


You can find archived listserve messages on the CPEO website at 


If this email has been forwarded to you and you'd like to subscribe, please send a message to: 


Who will win the Oscars? Spout off on our Entertainment list!

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] California Failing to do Its Job at Depot written by Grace Po
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Breast cancer around military sites
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] California Failing to do Its Job at Depot written by Grace Po
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Breast cancer around military sites

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index