U.S. MILITARY RESUMES BOMBING OF MARIANAS ISLAND

By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 8) - The U.S. military will be conducting a marine environmental survey on Farallon de Mendinilla Island beginning today before it resumes bombing practices on the island.

In an advisory released by the Emergency Management Office yesterday, the scheduled underwater survey by the military would last for one week, or until July 14.

But JO1 Michael Mitchell, deputy public affairs officer of the Commander for the Naval Forces Marianas headquartered on Guam, denied that the activity is intended to ascertain the environmental impact of the frequent bombing practices on FDM.

"It's an underwater environmental survey done by the Navy annually," Mitchell said. "It's not necessarily done to track an impact."

The military has been engaged in a legal battle with environmentalists because of the bombing exercises on the island.

Besides citing the annihilation of birds, environmental leaders have expressed concern over the military activity because FDM is surrounded by a reef that is considered as one of the biggest in the Western Pacific.

After the scheduled marine survey, the military is scheduled to resume its surface live-fire training from July 15 to 19. Mitchell explained that this type of training involves bombing practices by military ships.

On July 21, the Navy would be conducting air and surface live-fire training, the EMO said. Mitchell said the activity would be a combination of bombardments from ships and aircraft.

All the military activities slated this month, including the environmental survey, are scheduled from 6am to 6pm. The EMO issued a public advisory to warn people to stay away from the area. "The general location of these activities will be on the FDM training area (R7201) from 5,000 feet mean sea level on a 10 nautical mile radius on all quadrants," the EMO said. "Due to the danger imposed by these activities, the general public, especially fishermen, commercial pilots, and tour operators, are advised to stay away from this location during the time and dates indicated." FDM is the first island north of Saipan. Next up north is Anatahan Island, where the military had also planned conducting activities that had to be canceled due to a volcanic eruption on the island that began last May 10.

July 8, 2003

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com 

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