Senator B.J. Cruz from Guam is demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency require the U.S. military to test for radiation contamination be conducted in Apra Harbor before dredging and dumping of the sediment is approved. He is right to demand these studies. It is widely known that U.S. navy ships have leaked radioactive water in Apra. Given the nuclear history of the Mariana islands, it is reasonable to expect that there is radioactive sediment in the harbor.
In Hawai’i, radioactive Cobalt 60 contaminates the sediment in Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa (Pearl Harbor), leaked from the nuclear power plants on navy ships. The EPA knows this, but is not requiring a thorough clean up. The EPA should at least require that the military study the contamination of the harbor sediment to know the baseline level of environmental and human health risk that exists.
Cruz demands radiation tests
THURSDAY, 22 APRIL 2010 04:34 BY THERESE HART | VARIETY NEWS STAFF
VICE Speaker BJ Cruz is protesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s policy decision to not require radiation testing for dredged materials from Apra Harbor that would be dumped into the proposed ocean disposal site.
EPA said the testing was not necessary, prompting Cruz to fire off a letter to Nancy Woo, associate director of EPA’s water division for Region 9.
“It appears then that the dumping of any radioactive sediment under that equivalency threshold is an acceptable practice,” Cruz wrote.
“I take this to mean that, absent any proof that fuel and concentrated waste from nuclear reactors or materials used for radiological warfare were leaked into Apra Harbor, dredging and dumping may proceed without testing. That I cannot accept,” he added.
According to the Federal Register, EPA is proposing to designate the Guam Deep Ocean Disposal Site as a permanent ocean-dredged material disposal site located offshore of Guam. Disposal operations at the site will be limited to a maximum of 1 million cubit yards a calendar year and must be conducted in accordance with EPA’s site management and monitoring plan.
The Federal Register further reads that EPA should conduct an extensive series of tests and studies to determine if radiation exists in Apra Harbor waters or its sediments to independently confirm the Navy’s claim that the amount of leakage from nuclear-powered vessels is insignificant.
Woo has sent Cruz the final environmental impact statement for the designation of an offshore ocean-dredged material disposal site.
In an April 14 letter, Woo assured Cruz that his concerns regarding radiation in dredged sentiment in Apra Harbor and its dumping in Guam waters have been addressed, but the vice speaker said he was far from reassured.
Woo cited USEPA regulations that prohibit ocean disposal of high-level radioactive waste and materials. Woo also stated that radioactivity testing will be required when there is reason to believe that elevated levels of radiation may be present.
The rules that Woo cites refers to fuel and concentrated waste from nuclear reactors and materials used for radiological warfare.
Cruz said he is concerned that EPA will allow the dumping of any radioactive material below high levels of concentration, which he said, is obvious.
Cruz believes that before any dredging occurs in Apra Harbor, samples taken from the depth of the proposed dredge must first be tested for radiation.
“It is common knowledge that the U.S. Navy discharged radioactive material into Apra Harbor on more than one occasion. It is imperative, then, that no dredging of the harbor take place until adequate radiation testing independent from that reported by the U.S. Navy has been conducted on proposed dredge sites,” wrote Cruz.