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Wants live-fire exercises, ordinance disposal stopped

By Andrew O. De Guzman SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, August 11, 2009) - The Senate minority leader is asking the visiting U.S. congressional delegation to help end the detonation of unexploded ordnance and the military’s live fire exercises in the Northern Marianas.

Senator Luis P. Crisostimo, D-Saipan, is urging U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall "to look into the destruction brought by detonating on the islands with tons of explosives."

Rahall, D-W.V, together with five other U.S. lawmakers, arrived here last Saturday for a fact-finding mission.

"The livelihood of my people is affected," said Crisostimo, as he expressed concern over the environmental impact of detonating unexploded ordnance and live fire exercises.

Crisostimo said the federal government should collect and pack unexploded ordnance and ship them out of the islands.

"It’s not fair that they [the U.S.] are exploding leftover war ordnance on our islands," Crisostimo said, adding that reefs and lagoons are also affected and have to be cleared of war materials.

"Why would they give us back the junk they have created? Why are the local people responsible for what they did?" Crisostimo asked.

The senator said the "only viable industry [on island] is tourism but day by day we are slowly destroying the reefs because of war ordnance and other contaminants left under the ocean. The tourists are not coming back and the environment is being destroyed."

Crisostimo said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hire an independent toxic agent who is "not under the U.S. government to have a true and independent study and that’s what they [the U.S.] owe to my people."

Crisostimo noted the detonation of 1,000 pounds of unexploded ordnance in Marpi on Friday.

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