2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 15:51:31 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] NRDC and Others Sue Navy Over Vieques
National Resources Defense Council

78 North Broadway 
White Plains, NY  10603
Fax 914-422-4437

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Senior Attorney

Embargo Until Wednesday, May 17, 2000 at 10 am

Contact:     	Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC, 914-422-4343
		Alan Metrick, NRDC, 212-727-4467
		Dennis Rivera, 1199/SEIU New York's Health and Human                 
Services Union, (212) 631-4658
		Karl S. Coplan, Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic,                 

Environmental, labor, civil rights groups Sue Navy over Vieques 

Coalition cites high disease rates and Military-caused pollution on the 

New York (May 17, 2000) - Citing environmental hazards as well as high 
cancer and infant mortality rates on Vieques Island, a coalition of 
environmental, labor and civil rights groups say they will sue the U.S. 
Navy for violating U.S. laws during years of exercises on it s training 
range there.

The suit will ask a federal court to require the Navy to cease 
activities that contribute to environmental hazards at the training 
range, and to clean up pollution caused by years of mock warfare and 
beachfront bombings on the inhabited island.

Plaintiffs in the suite include NRDC (National Resources Defense 
Council); 1199/SEIU New York's Health and Human Services Union; and 
several Vieques-based groups and individuals.  The groups have filed 
formal notice stating their intent to sue in U.S. District Court for 
Puerto Rico.  The groups' notice of intent to sue includes civil rights 
as well as environmental claims.

The Navy recently announced its intention to resume training on the 
island after ejecting protesters who had occupied the training range.  
Military operations on the island were suspended last  year after a 
bombing accident at the Naval base in which a local resident was killed.

"The Navy's operations at Vieques Island have been an environmental and 
social disaster without any redeeming military benefit," said Robert F. 
Kennedy, Jr., NRDC, Senior Attorney.  "The Navy would never dare impose 
these burdens on residents of the continental United States.  The idea 
that there is a national security issue involved here is ridiculous, " 
he continued.

To bolster his argument that the Navy's operations on Vieques are 
unnecessary to national defense preparedness, Mr. Kennedy cites retired 
Navy Rear Admiral Eugene J. Carroll, Jr. of the Center for Defense 
Information, an advisor to the plaintiffs, who has stated that the kind 
of exercises undertaken there have been obsolete for decades, and have 
no strategic importance to the U.S. or its allies.

According to the plaintiffs, environmental hazards at the Vieques Naval 
training site include unexploded ordnance, residual toxic contaminants 
and heavy metals from exploded ordnance, and radioactivity from 
munitions manufactured from spent uranium.  The groups bringing suit 
claim that these hazardous materials--dangerous enough in the island's 
soil--would be re-suspended in the air if practice runs, even with 
"inert" bombs, were to resume.

Although EPA granted the Navy a permit for discharges of munitions to 
waters off Vieques Island in 1984, the plaintiffs claim that the Navy 
consistently violated the toxic contamination limits specified in the 
permit.  In addition, they say, the Navy's operations at the site 
violate federal laws requiring proper disposal of solid and hazardous 
wastes, water pollutions regulations, the endangered species act, and 
ocean dumping regulations.

Vieques Island, is home to several resident endangered animal and plant 
species--including hawksbill and leatherback turtles--that inhabit areas 
directly in the path of military activities.  Other endangered species 
there include manatees; brown pelicans; and the colbana negra, a rare 
species of tropical evergreen.

The plaintiffs in the suit are represented by Pace Environmental 
Litigation Clinic, NRDC, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, 
and Puerto Rican attorney Celina Romany.

Press Conference

Who:  Press Conference hosted by attorneys Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Pace 
Environmental Litigation Clinic Supervising Attorney Karl Coplan, Dennis 
Rivera, President of 1199/SEIU New York's Health and Human Services 
Union and Juan Figueroa, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.  
Present at the press conference will be Bronx Borough President Fernando 
Ferrer, New York City Council member Jose Rivera and Rear Admiral Eugene 
J. Carroll, Jr., United States Navy, Retired, of the Center for Defense 

Where:  	Library for the Blind
		40 West 20th Street
		1st Floor
		(between 5th and 6th Avenues)
		New York, New York

When:		Wednesday, May 17th at 10:00 a.m.
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