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500 Acres Of RR Land Contaminated…Task Force Created To Deal With Dangerous Fugitives…Gov’t Campaign To Combat Sex Crimes…P.R. FBI Director Appointed… DR Demands Island Take Back Toxic Waste…PDP Unveils Urbanization Plan…Rey: Violence Is A Social Problem

500 Acres Of Contaminated Land In Roosevelt Roads

By Jose Fernandez Colon of Associated Press

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE - Carl Axel Soderberg, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Caribbean region announced on Thursday that almost 500 acres of the defunct Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba are contaminated.

Soderberg, a former member of the Environmental Quality Board, said that parts of ammunition used by the United States Navy were found in one of the 18 areas reported to be contaminated.

"Of the former base’s almost 9,000 acres, only 500, spread out over different areas, are contaminated. Some of the contaminants are grease; gasoline; oil in a few workshops; and, like in any other airport, jet fuel on the ground," said Soderberg.

Soderberg said in an interview that they would clean up the contamination following the guidelines established by the 1996 Hazardous Waste Disposal Law.

Before it was known that the Navy would leave Roosevelt Roads, the EPA had said that all contaminated areas would have to be cleaned up, he said, pointing out that the Navy has already signed documents taking responsibility for the task.

"The Navy must fulfill its responsibility…it has to continue its clean-up efforts because it still owns the land," he added.

Soderberg also said the Navy must hand in a report on contamination and the clean-up process before April, 2005.

New Task Force Created To Deal With Dangerous Fugitives

By WOW staff

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Hato Rey- Police Superintendent Agustin Cartagena Diaz and the local U.S. Marshal Chief Herman J. Wirshing joined forces on Thursday when they created the 24:7 Special Task Force, whose purpose is to capture seven of the most notorious criminals in the metropolitan area.

The gang, headed by Alexander Capo Carrillo, is made up of hardened criminals who have been implicated in several violent drug-related offenses. Wilfredo Feliciano Rodriguez, Cesar Valdez Garcia, Miguel A. Diaz Rivera, Arturo Rojas Tapia, Jose Carrion Rivera, and Charlie Manuel Vazquez Peña are also members of the group.

"The special task force is in charge of gathering information and supporting other agencies, as well as analyzing data collected by police sources," said Cartagena Diaz in a press conference when introducing the squad that will be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The task force consists of 35 agents from different state and federal agencies, including the Puerto Rico State Police, Customs, U.S. Marshals, and Immigration.

The superintendent’s office also has three hotlines to receive tips that may lead to the capture and prosecution of the fugitives. Those numbers are 787-793-0457, 787-766-6000, and 1-800-981-3635.

New Government Campaign To Combat Sex Crimes

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — In Puerto Rico, less than one-fifth of sexual crimes are reported to the police. This prompted the Health Department to launch an event on Friday geared toward raising awareness and changing people’s attitudes.

The Health Department’s Assistant Prevention Secretary Pedro Ramos said in a press release, "[The campaign was created] to break the silence because it is estimated that over 15,000 sexual assaults are committed each year, yet only 16% are reported to the authorities."

The activity will take place in front of the Capitol building, said Ramos.

The Rape Victim Help Center has provided educational activities to over 13,953 people during the last year and has counseled 3,636 others, said Center Director Rebecca Ward.

Ward reminded readers that the World Health Organization has classified sexual assaults as a preventable health risk. She added that educational campaigns, hospital audits, and community action can help diminish their occurrence.

DR Asks For Return Of Toxic Waste To Puerto Rico

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SANTO DOMINGO (AP)- The Dominican Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions demanding the return to Puerto Rico of 50,000 tons of toxic waste deposited on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic.

The decision was reached after an appointed commission deemed the materials toxic.

At the request of the country’s senate, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic’s Academy of Science conducted a study of the material called rock ash.

According to the report’s findings, "The waste was deemed toxic because it contains arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, and vanadium at levels surpassing international standards." Under these standards, it is considered to be harmful to humans.

The report was delivered during Tuesday’s Senate session. A joint resolution was made to return the material.

The report also alleges that the permit issued by the Secretary of Environmental Concerns to dump the material violated existing environmental laws.

The waste, a byproduct of AES electricity plants, was taken in barges from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic.

Rock ash--a mixture of ash, sand, and water--is used in producing electricity. Rock ash was deposited in the coastal communities of Manzanillo and Samana on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

FBI Director For Puerto Rico Appointed

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Apr 14 (EFE).- FBI director Robert Mueller on Wednesday announced the appointment of Luis S. Fraticelli as the special agent in charge of the Bureau's office for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The appointment became effective on Monday, the FBI announced in a press release.

Fraticelli, whose parents are Puerto Rican, was born in 1961 at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and lived at several U.S. military bases until his family moved to Puerto Rico in 1971.

The new FBI chief for the region graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in 1984 with a degree in business administration.

He began his career with the FBI in 1984 as an administrative employee and in 1986 he became a special agent, after which he was assigned to the Bureau's office in El Paso, Texas, where he specialized in counter-intelligence investigation, white collar crime, violent crime and drug trafficking.

In 1988, he was sent to the FBI's office in San Juan, where he remained until 1995, when he was reassigned to Washington and rose to be head of the Criminal Division. He has also been stationed in several other FBI offices in the United States.

PDP Introduces Urban Redevelopment Plan

April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP)- The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Anibal Acevedo Vila, unveiled a plan on Tuesday to repopulate urban areas by offering incentives to new residents and businesses.

Acevedo Vila proposed creating tax-free zones in urban areas as part of an economic development plan called Supporting the Locals.

"Until now, government efforts to revitalize urban areas have focused on offering incentives to businesses and developers. I propose a similar effort geared toward attracting individuals and families with the capacity of generating economic activity to urban areas," stated Acevedo Vila in a press release.

The plan will give, for a limited period of time, exemption from taxes to families who purchase their first homes in designated urban areas.

Rise In Violent Crimes Shows We Have Hit Bottom

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

April 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN- The number of violent crimes on the island shows that, "we have hit bottom," said Education Secretary Cesar Rey.

"We have sunk low. Violence is not a government problem; it is a social problem," said Rey during the presentation of the media campaign dubbed Puerto Rico in Peace.

The publicity campaign was presented on Wednesday to the State Elections Commission (SEC), which is required by law to review all government media initiatives to ensure that they are not using public funds for political ends, particularly during election years.

A board formed by anti-violence organizations and the SEC now have eight days to review the campaign and decide if they will approve it.

Electoral commissioners from the New Progressive Party (NPP) and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) have objected to the campaign because they feel it will take time away from political campaigns, which use the same media for their ads.

Family Affairs Secretary Yolanda Zayas said the campaign, which will cost $7.2 million, will be in effect from May 1 to Dec. 31, and will take a hiatus from Oct. 1 to Nov. 4 because of the general elections.

Health Secretary Johnny Rullan pointed out that by airing the campaign in homes, campaign organizers will target one of the main arenas for violent crime. Every day, there are on average 149 reports of violent crimes perpetrated against children, spouses, and the elderly.

Rullan also mentioned that 2.1 murders occur every day on the island.

Rey admitted that it could be years before campaigns such as Puerto Rico in Peace have the desired effect.

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