The impending partial closure of the US military base in Okinawa and the planned move to transfer military and civilian personnel raise fears among Guam residents about its effect on the ecosystem of the island territory. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the military build up could trigger island-wide water shortage and an overload of sewage treatment system.
The relocation requires dredging underwater to accommodate a giant marine port including the construction of military airstrip will definitely impact on Guam's ecosystem.
"We're trying to identify and understand the current conditions on Guam and the potential impact of the relocation," said Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who on Tuesday will lead a delegation to the island. "There's no question that the environmental conditions on Guam are not ideal."
Environmental regulators maintain that the relocation project should not proceed, saying Guam's natural resources could not possibly accommodate the on-going relocation. "The government of Guam and the Guam Waterworks cannot by themselves accommodate the military expansion," said Nancy Woo, associate director of the EPA's western regional water division.
She said Guam would need about $550 million to upgrade its water and sewage systems. White House officials said the EPA findings are preliminary.
Washington Post reports:
At the peak of construction, the buildup would increase Guam's population by 79,000 people, or about 45 percent. The EPA said the military plans, so far, to pay for public services for about 23,000 of the new arrivals, mostly Marines and their dependents who are relocating from the Japanese island of Okinawa. Ceded to the United States by Spain in 1898, Guam is a U.S. territory. Its residents are American citizens, but they cannot vote in presidential elections and have no voting representative in Congress.
Guam residents are hopeful that President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Guam will allow him to 'understand the anxieties and unlock federal resources' and to address the different concerns of the people regarding the relocation of the military base.
President Obama was scheduled to visit Guam last week but canceled his trip to attend to the passage of the health bill, which was narrowly passed by the US congress. The Asian trip which include Guam has been rescheduled for June this year.
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )