Senator Esteves disappointed with Navy over underwater detonatio - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senator Esteves disappointed with Navy over underwater detonation

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Disappointment - that's the sentiment of one lawmaker who says the plans by the United States Navy to conduct an underwater denotation in Apra Harbor is one example of the seemingly one way relationship between the US military and Guam residents.

The announcement of plans by the US military to detonate explosives in Apra Harbor without community input has senator Fernando Esteves up in arms. "I think that complete disregard at least for the consideration of the public, it's very disappointing and I hope we make corrections," he said.

Esteves said in this case the Coast Guard deemed community input, "impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest." The senator continued, "I don't think it meets any of those categories when you think about the notifications, with respect to them protecting the security of their operations, we should at least have a general idea of why they're even detonating explosives in these areas."

The Coast Guard also noted a short time frame as  reason for the lack of public input, but Esteves said poor planning isn't an excuse for cutting corners. "Especially when it could potentially have a detrimental effect to the community," he said.

"According to a release from the US Navy, as part of the training, four 1.25-pound explosives will be detonate below the water's surface, away from coral and on a sandy bottom," he said.

During the event, the U.S. Coast Guard will restrict access to the vicinity of northwest Outer Apra Harbor while following mitigation procedures to ensure minimal impact to the environment. The area will also be cleared by divers during and after the exercise, which will be stopped if a person or marine mammal is seen in the area. The release adds that the Navy is permitted to routinely conduct underwater detonation training by the National Marine Fisheries Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Program. But despite this, Esteves remains critical. He sent a letter to Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield this afternoon.

"As a non-self-governing territory we don't have control over our own waters, therefore it's their responsibility to relay the info and communicate and work it out with the community/ I made sure to highlight in my letter that she's dealing with a community that's dealt with military rule under a naval administration, with unilateral authority and it's a sensitive issue, so I have greater expectations and I hope we can improve our relationship," he said.

The underwater training is scheduled for May 18.

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