2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 12:29:58 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Vieques airport transfer
The transfer of about 110 acres from the Navy's ammunition facility on
western Vieques to Puerto Rico for the expansion of the Vieques airport
is less controversial than the planned transfer of the bulk of the
ammunition depot and the likely eventual transfer of the majority of the
training range on the eastern side of the island. Environmental studies
began well before the February 28, 2000 transfer. The conveyance deed
itself states that "no known hazardous substances and no petroleum
products or their derivatives are known to have been released or
disposed of at the premises."

But the deed also contains language that is technically inappropriate
for this property and which would cause serious problems for the larger
properties. Through the signature of Governor Rossello on the deed, the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico released the federal government from "...
any and all claims, demands, actions or  causes of actions of every kind
and nature whatsoever that may have accrued or may ever accrue ... that
relate to ... any environmental condition .... This release includes
without limitation any and all claims ... based on the acts or omissions
of any department [of the United States] ... under CERCLA or other
federal and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico laws, either now in effect or
that may be enacted in the future, that govern liability for the
remediation of any hazardous substance or petroleum product or their

This language appears to waive the federal government's obligations
under CERCLA (the Superfund law) for the 110 acres, and it could expose
Puerto Rico to massive financial and legal obligations if applied (in
new conveyance documents) to properties with significant environmental
risks. I don't know to what degree the transfer language in the House
version of the Defense Authorization bill resolves this problem. Clearly
the Commonwealth needs to consult legal experts on federal property
transfer before it accepts any additional Navy property on Vieques.

Lenny Siegel


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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