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Draft SEIS released

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Over the next two months island residents will have the opportunity to review the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Guam military buildup. Here's an inside look on the differences in this report and what to expect this time around.

 "The Draft SEIS is a very interesting document in the fact that it has a lot of information in it," explained Major Darren Alvarez. Today that Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was released for public viewing and comment providing an analysis of the proposed housing and live-fire training range complex and associated infrastructure to support the relocation of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Alvarez, the Joint Guam Program Office deputy director, says the Draft SEIS details months of studies to come up with preferred alternatives.

He said, "So the preferred alternative they have right now is the main cantonment with the marines and the family housing will go at Naval Base Guam Telecommunications Site Finegayan so NCTAMS and the live fire training range complex will be at Northwest Field Andersen Air Force Base."

The 2010 final EIS came in at over 10,000 pages with the latest draft now 1,400. So what are the changes? "The previous EIS was much larger because it had a much larger action with the previous number you had 8,600 Marines and 9,000 dependents and they were all coming in a four-year period so such a massive spike in population and then the associated population that would need build the base was massive and it was spike of around 70,000 people that would be influxing in Guam at one time and unfortunately and what it looked like infrastructure wise it could break the island so that was part of the decision why went back and relooked and the entire situation," he said.

The 2014 Draft SEIS now takes into account approximately 5,000 Marines and 1,300 dependents relocating over 12 years. Other differences include 13-years of moderate construction activity with a gradual phase out, a peak population increase of less than 10,000 and no land acquisition for the main cantonment.

Buildup Office director Mark Calvo calls the Draft SEIS a major milestone. "Clearly the Navy and the federal government has acknowledged the four pillars that were established that honors, after the buildup, a smaller Department of Defense footprint it honors a One-Guam approach to help with the quality of life for the people of Guam and the military personnel that will be here," he said.

One of those four pillars is 24-7 unimpeded access to Pagat. But while the preferred alternative sites are within the military's footprint, it doesn't necessarily mean Pagat is off the table just yet. "It's just a matter of course, they have acknowledged the preferred site as Northwest Field and we're hopeful that it will remain that way," he said.

And today the public comment period officially begins. "And we want to hear all of the public's concerns, what the good things about the plan, what the bad things are we really want people to look at the document and tell us where did we get it wrong because that's very important to us," he explained.

The comment period is set for the next 60 days. To read and comment on the Draft SEIS log on to http://guambuildupeis.us. Oversight chair Senator Frank Aguon Jr. meanwhile will hold a roundtable discussion on the Draft SEIS on April 28 at 6pm at the Guam Legislature. 

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