STATUS OF MARSHALL ISLANDS NUCLEAR WASTE SITE STUDY "FREEZE"

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QUESTIONED

MAJURO (July 6, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---At a public meeting in the Marshall Islands last week, Minister of Resources and Development Jiba Kabua did not provide clarification on how long the current "freeze"on a feasibility study to build nuclear waste and storage sites in the Marshalls will be in effect.

Bowing to Pacific-wide pressures, RMI President Imata Kabua announced the "freeze" during a meeting last month with US Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in Washington. Kabua, however, did not say the contract with the American firm, Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Environmental Services, Inc., had been canceled.

Meantime, Greenpeace spokesperson in the Marshalls, Bunny McDiarmid, says "There was an enormous amount of confusion and frustration expressed by the Marshallese people" at last week's public meeting. She said people asked for details of the agreement to be released and an explanation of exactly what the term, "freeze," means.

At the meeting, Minister Jiba Kabua said the goal of the study is to find a way to afford rehabilitating islands affected by US nuclear testing in the Marshalls after World War II.

Greenpeace's McDiarmid noted, however, that if the goal is to clean up contaminated islands, why, then, are Marshall Island leaders talking about bringing in nuclear waste from such places as Taiwan and suggesting the inhabited, uncontaminated island of Wotho be considered as a potential nuclear waste storage and disposal site.

No answer to McDiarmid's question was provided at the public meeting.

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