Pagan proposed target for ‘highly-explosive aviation ordnance’—EIS

BECQ’s Rabauliman calls these ‘bombs’

Pagan may not be a proposed “bombing range” for the U.S. military, as their head officials say—just a proposed target for 1,000- to 2,000-lb “highly-explosive aviation ordnance,” according to environmental impact documents.

A comparison of impact documents for training on Farallon De Medinilla or FDM—a routine bombing area—to that of Pagan reveal a proposed “heavier load” for an island that people fear may become another FDM.

Training on Pagan, though, would occur less frequently than FDM, at a proposed 15 weeks per year.

Impact documents for Pagan live-fire training describe 175 highly explosive 2,000-lb “aviation ordnance” for Pagan per year.

The documents also list an amount of 175 for highly explosive 1,000-lb and 500-lb aviation-delivered ordnance on Pagan.

Impact documents also say that, for all “action” alternatives on Pagan, 500 highly-explosive 2.75-inch rockets will be used per year, and 150 high explosive 5-inch rockets will used, among hundreds and thousands of inert bomb and practice bullets, respectively, per year.

On FDM, the military describes “explosive bombs” to be less than 2,000 lbs. For “alternatives 1 and 2,” they list the use of 6,242 bombs and 6,821 bombs, respectively, per year.

These numbers are described in the final environmental impact statement for the Marianas Islands Training and Testing area, which also posits a “no-action” alternative option with 2,150 explosive bombs per year, or what is currently used.

The final impact documents go on to describe tens and hundreds of explosive missiles, grenades, and mortar and thousands of medium-caliber and large-caliber projectiles for an island that will see ordnance use jump 450-percent if either military action alternative goes through.

The MITT also describes under-sea and high-energy sonar training in the waters of the Marianas. Together with impact documents on live-fire training on Pagan and Tinian, the documents make clear the U.S. military’s intent for training in the Marianas.

Bombs on Pagan?

This week, Marine Forces Pacific executive director Craig Whelden said it was a “false characterization to liken the military’s use of Pagan to Farallon de Mendenilla, Vieques, or Ko’olawe”—or islands used by the military as bombing ranges.

But according to Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality administrator Frank Rabauliman in an interview yesterday, “A bomb is a bomb is a bomb.”

“Unless, I am misinterpreting what aviation [delivered] ordnance means, I think that there are going to be bombs in Pagan,” Rabauliman said, referring to the munitions numbers listed in the military’s environmental impact statements, or EIS.

On the military’s environmental impact statements, or EIS, Rabauliman said, that an EIS should “quantify the impact” of all impacts to water, air, and noise quality, but said, “That was not made clear in the EIS” for live-fire training.

He called these “cumulative impacts” a “huge item to look at” from an environmental standpoint, and said the military should quantify the impacts of both the Marianas Islands Training and Testing area, another set of proposed undersea, sonar, and bombing training with the live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan combined, over a period of time.

“I don’t know if they are required to add this cumulative impact, with that cumulative impact—but it’d be something very useful and very beneficial to the decision-makers and particularly for the members of the community…So you know exactly what effect this federal activity is going to have, how it is going to effect the people but also the physical and cultural and socio-economic” aspects of the CNMI, he said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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