CNMI Departments and agencies have submitted their preliminary comments on impact documents for the U.S. military’s proposed live-fire and explosive ordnance training on Tinian and Pagan, according to the administration yesterday.
The administration said they and their consultants, Denonts, have begun review of these comments from CNMI departments and agencies.
These departments and agencies oversee, among others, tourism, land, and environmental matters.
The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Marianas Visitors Authority, and the Department of Public Lands, as well as the Department of Land and Natural Resources, make up this group, along with other agencies.
In an earlier statement, the administration disclosed concerns over the potential loss of acres of coral on Tinian, the contamination of its sole source aquifer by munitions, and the forced displacement of thousands of endangered birds, among others.
The administration said the military plans to build ramps for amphibious assault vehicles off Tinian occur at Unai Chulu, a site that is part of the North Field and Landing Beaches Historic National Landmark.
The proposed ramp would result in the dredging of 10 acres of coral with “direct and indirect effects up to 20 acres.”
“The ramp will kill coral, lead to less habitat for fish, would harm sea turtles, and reduce tourism opportunities. Unai Chulu is currently a popular beach for tourists. There will be significant environmental and, we believe, economic impacts,” the administration had said.
On Tinian water sources, the administration said, several studies in existence and contrary to findings in the draft EIS show that military munitions “can and do” contaminate soil and groundwater near firing ranges and other military facilities.
On Pagan, the administration said the final EIS needs to “properly address Pagan as a homeland to people of the Northern Islands.” They also said the military should address the effect of run-off and sedimentation from live fire on Pagan because the nature of the bombing activities there will likely cause soil and munitions runoff.
“Saying the land is relatively flat is not sufficient. Heavy rains can still wash pollutants off and into the sea,” the administration said.