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Puerto Rico's Government Threatens To Sue U.S. Navy

June 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999 DOW JONES & COMPANY, INC.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)--Puerto Rico's government is threatening to sue the U.S. Navy for damaging its environment, adding a new element to a growing controversy over the Navy's live-fire exercises on an outlying island.

Copies of a June 10 notice sent to the Navy's Washington, D.C. litigation department were distributed Thursday by Victor Garcia San Inocencio, a member of a commission investigating the Navy's activities on Vieques island.

The notice accuses the Navy of polluting the air, water and sea bed near Vieques and says the Puerto Rican government will sue if by Aug. 9 "these violations have not been remedied" - an apparent request for a clean-up operation.

The Navy has controlled some two-thirds of the 22-mile (35-kilometer) long island, currently home to 9,300 people, for over half a century, and considers it an invaluable training ground for bombing runs and amphibious assaults.

But local opposition to the exercises has grown since an April bombing accident killed a civilian guard and the Navy last month belatedly admitted that in February it mistakenly fired hundreds of radioactive shells tipped with depleted uranium on Vieques.

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