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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (April 19, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would like to clean up more former military sites on Guam, but it receives limited funding each year, the Corps said yesterday in a written statement.

The Corps responded to a recent audit of its cleanup operations by the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress.

The GAO report states cleanup efforts on Guam have lagged behind the rest of the nation because Guam projects have been given a lower priority.

''Between fiscal year 1984 and 2000, 4 percent of the total expected cost of cleaning up these locations had been funded in Guam -- $4.9 million -- compared with 16 percent nationwide,'' according to the document.

"Prioritization of sites is based on the immediacy of threat to the health, safety and well-being of the public at large, with projects identified accordingly," the Army Corps said in a written statement from its Honolulu office.

"At the current rate of growth, it will take decades to put a dent in all of the (former military sites) that have been identified through Hawai‘i and the Pacific."

The Corps noted that during 2000, it spent $2.8 million -- about 44 percent of the Honolulu district budget -- to remove chemical agent identification kits that were found buried on private property in Mongmong.

Guam Delegate Robert Underwood yesterday said he agrees it will take decades to clean up sites on Guam.

"We certainly hope that this report can serve as a catalyst to receive more funding," he said.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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