Para ver este documento en español, oprima aquí.

Navy Bombarded With Vieques Suits

Kennedy Collects Data On Alleged Navy Damages

Study Reveals High Concentration Of Metals In Vieques

June 21, 2000
Copyright © 2000 EFE News Service. All Rights Reserved.

Navy Bombarded With Vieques Suits

June 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

VIEQUES - After six decades of U.S. Navy bombing on Vieques , hundreds of the Puerto Rican island's 9,400 residents are hitting the Navy with lawsuits - enough to entice a stateside lawyer to open an office here.

"Everybody on the island of Vieques has a claim against the Navy, at the very least for health care monitoring," John Arthur Eaves Jr., a Jackson, Miss.-based attorney, said Thursday.

Eaves opened a Vieques office four months ago. In May, he filed for damages against the Navy on behalf of 200 islanders claiming health problems. Eaves says that number could swell to 2,000 - growing as fast as doctors in San Juan, the capital on the main island, can process the 200 medical reports he says they receive each week.

The Navy said in a recent statement that it has consulted with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry regarding the claims. It noted that "no scientific study - based on empirical data - has ever linked Navy activities on Vieques to any civilian health issues."

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is preparing a public health assessment of Vieques , with which the Navy says it is fully cooperating. "The Navy is concerned with the health and well-being of all our neighbors, in Vieques and throughout the United States," its statement said.

Vieques residents claim health problems from respiratory illnesses and skin rashes to gastrointestinal complications and cancers are related to the military exercises on the island. Plaintiffs include several former civilian Navy workers who Eaves says have tested positive for heavy metals toxicity, including uranium.

The Navy admitted to accidentally firing 263 bullets tipped with depleted uranium in Vieques last year in violation of federal law. It has recovered 53 rounds.

Once the health-related claims are completed, Eaves said he will concentrate on plaintiffs claiming property damage and loss of income in fields as diverse as fishing and real estate.

"Our mission in Vieques is to make it clear that there are no second-class Americans and there are no second-class humans," he said.

Data Collected On Alleged U.S. Navy Damages To Vieques Island

June 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 EFE News Service. All Rights Reserved.
Source: World Reporter (TM)

San Juan - Roberto Rabin, a member of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques Island, told EFE that the group accompanying environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy colleced data of the damages caused to the island by the U.S. Navy which it plans to use as evidence in its lawsuit against the U.S. government.

Kennedy traveled to Puerto Rico to meet members of the committee who for the past three days have been collecting soil samples from the bombing range.

He is the senior counsel to the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, affiliated with Pace University, that is researching possible Naval violations of environmental laws in its bombing exercises on Vieques . The Puerto Rican Legal Fund in New York is also working on behalf of island citizens who oppose the continuation of military exercises.

"Over the weekend, data was compiled on serious environmental and health hazards caused to Vieques by the Navy," Rabin said.

"We were all pleased and satisfied, although we realize the legal work is only part of the fight to get the Navy to withdraw from Vieques . Kennedy is delighted because he foresees winning the case," he went on to say.

Puerto Rico 's Planning Board later issued a statement saying the Navy planned to begin two to six days of exercises starting this week in which five ships would fire 600 five-inch dummy shells at the range and aircraft would drop as many as 830 dummy bombs into a target area, east of Vieques Island.

Study Reveals High Concentration Of Metals In Vieques

June 20, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

By Proviana Colon Diaz

A scientific study of dirt, water, and sediment samples from the east side of Vieques revealed great concentrations of metal and other substances linked to the military practices in the target zone, environmentalist Neftali Garcia said Monday.

Garcia, who is the author of the year-long study, said lab tests made to the hair and feces of a number of Vieques residents also revealed a great concentration of metals, some of which are carcinogenic.

High concentrations of arsenic, barium, zinc, cobalt, mercury, and lead were found in the samples. But Garcia said the high concentrations of aluminum, iron, magnesium, and nickel found in some of the samples are the direct result of the military practices.

Most samples were taken from the east coast of the island municipality because the land in the west was off-limits to the investigators. The highest concentrations of metals in the samples were found near the lagoon and Icacos Bay and the area between Anones Lagoon and Carrucho beach.

"These high concentrations are not of natural origin but are rather directly associated with the explosions and Navy military activities," Garcia said.

Garcia did not deny that metal concentrations were also found among the civil population of the island but added, however, that they were found at a "much lesser concentration."

The medical study performed by the students of the University of Puerto Rico Graduate Planning School on residents of two Vieques communities revealed the most common diseases affecting them are hypertension, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, heart problems, and cancer.

"Metal intoxication of arsenic and barium has been linked to hypertension," Garcia said, adding that cancer could be associated to the substances found in the tests.

In addition, the study also revealed that the asthma rate in Vieques rises when military practices are conducted.

A lab test made on hair samples of 5-year-old Vieques resident Shakira Soto revealed a high concentration of aluminum, arsenic, lead, and nickel. Furthermore, Garcia said there has not been any other activities such as agriculture in which substances such as those found in the study have been used.

"The only activity that has been going on in Vieques for the past 60 years and each time more intense are the military practices," he said.

Garcia revealed the findings of the study during a Monday morning press conference at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño were he was joined by Maria Elena Navarro of the Women Alliance pro Vieques and Dr. Antonio Rivera Castaño, epidemiologist of the Committee for the Rescue of Vieques.

The study, at an estimated cost of $30,000, will be available to all those who wish to file lawsuits against the Navy, including the group represented by environmentalist attorney Robert Kennedy.

Kennedy left the island on Sunday after meeting with a working group of experts who were gathering evidence for the legal actions planned against the military body.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback