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HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (May 6, 2000 – Honolulu Advertiser)---The U.S. Defense Department will temporarily store nearly 110 tons of toxic waste material containing PCB on Wake Island, which is 2,000 miles west of Hawai‘i.

The Defense Logistics Agency announced yesterday that the waste will be shipped from Japan to Wake Island no later than May 18. The agency did not say where the waste will eventually wind up.

The 3-square-mile island is a U.S. possession that is used by the U.S. Army as a missile launch support facility. There are about 100 contract workers on the island.

The waste contains polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB, which has been linked to cancer. The material consists of transformers, transformer oil, circuit breakers and small parts.

Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman Gerda Parr said the material was used by military forces in Japan and cannot be imported into any territory of the United States governed by Customs Service rules. There also are no appropriate disposal facilities in Japan, she said.

The defense agency at one time considered taking the waste to Johnston Island, a national wildlife refuge 700 miles southwest of Honolulu. The island is home to an Army facility that destroys chemical weapons.

The Johnston plan was opposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the island. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Barbara Maxfield said her agency also has concerns about the waste being stored at Wake Island.

The island is not a wildlife refuge, but is home to many sea birds and coral reefs, she said.

"We would certainly express our dismay, as we did at Johnston," Maxfield said. "Although it’s not a refuge, we’re hoping that the resources there can be protected adequately."

For additional reports from The Honolulu Advertiser, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Honolulu Advertiser.

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