MARSHALL ISLANDS PRESIDENT KABUA "FREEZES" NUCLEAR WASTE SITE

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WASHINGTON (June 23, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---Marshall Islands President Imata Kabua, at a meeting this morning with US Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt in Washington, announced that his government is putting a "freeze" on the feasibility study that could lead to development of a radioactive waste disposal and storage facility in the Marshalls.

It was just a month ago that the RMI government announced that it had authorized the American firm, Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Environmental Services, Inc., to study the possibility of developing waste dumps on one or more of the Micronesian nation's atolls. At the same time, Marshsalls officials also were reported to be soliciting funding for the study project from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

The feasibility study announcement resulted in Pacific-wide condemnation of the idea, even in the Marshall Islands. Kwajalein Senator Ataji Balos urged his Nitijela --or parliamentary-- colleagues to terminate the agreement, noting that the Pacific needed no more involvement with nuclear experiments and radioactive waste.

Joining President Kabua and Secretary Babbitt in the high-level delegation discussing the nuclear waste site study "freeze" today were Allen Stayman, Director of the US Office of Insular Affairs; Marshall Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phillip Muller; Ambassador to the United States Banny de Brum; and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, Holly Barker.

At the meeting's conclusion, OIA Director Stayman hailed President Kabua's nuclear dump "freeze" statement, saying "We are delighted to learn that the Marshalls have placed a hold on the idea of (developing) such a facility."

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