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Navy Denies Call To Extend Vieques Exercises Until 2006

March 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The U.S. Navy denied Tuesday the alleged request to extend their military maneuvers in the firing range in the eastern region of the Vieques municipality until December 2006.

Navy Lt. Corey Barker said the document where the date is mentioned, revealed Tuesday by a local newspaper, is part of a report filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a supplement of an environmental evaluation and affirmed that it does not constitute an official petition.

"When the Fish and Wildlife Service files those reports, they use a prospective date of four or five years. It seems like if we were asking for permission to continue the exercises, but really, that’s the way they write their reports. There is no formal petition to have exercises until 2006," Barker affirmed in a phone interview.

Published reports revealed a report where environmental aspects in Vieques were evaluated and sent Monday by the Navy to the Vieques and Ceiba public libraries.

The document contains additional information to the one presented in February 2001, according to the Environmental Quality Council, which establishes dispositions from the National Public Policy Law.

Barker added that the Fish and Wildlife evaluation does not affect future maneuvers that could take place on Vieques and that "the document only offers an approval that establishes we are complying with all existing laws and rulings."

The next round of military exercises are scheduled to begin Monday.

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