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Johnston Atoll To Be Used For US Military Waste

(Forwarded By Peace Movement Aotearoa)

PCRC ACTION ALERT! 5 May 2000

Johnston Atoll To Be Used As Site For Contaminated US Military Waste.

The US Government is about to ship a load of toxic military wastes to Johnston Atoll in the central Pacific. The cancer-causing PCB wastes have already been refused entry to Canada, the US and Guam. Now the US military are once again using the Pacific islands as a dumping ground for their poisons. Please act today to protest the planned shipment, as a decision will be taken soon!

Background

The Pacific Daily News reported in its Sunday edition that the US military is shipping 220,000 pounds of military waste contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) from Japan. These tons of wastes were collected from US military bases in Japan.

The waste was shipped to Canada in March, but was rejected by that country (Congratulations, Canada!). The ship Wan He carrying the waste then tried to enter the US port of Seattle on 1 April. It was denied entry to mainland US by local authorities and returned to Yokohama, Japan in mid-April. The Japanese government will not allow disposal in Japan and has reached an agreement with the US government that it will remove the waste from Japan within 30 days from 18 April.

In recent days, there has been pressure to ship the waste to Guam, where the US maintains a number of military bases. But US law prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste from a foreign source into the United States, including all its territories. Guam's Congressman Robert Underwood and local Chamorro activists have spoken out against the use of Guam for waste dumping (already they are calling on the US military to clean up PCB pollution in Guam and the northern Marianas).

The US Department of Defense (US DoD), in collaboration with the US Environmental Agency (US EPA), has now made the decision to ship the waste to Johnston Island, as the holding site until a decision is reached on the final destination.

We, the peoples of the Pacific are deeply opposed to the decision by the administering power to use Johnston Island as the holding site for this shipment of hazardous waste. This is an arrogant decision and a show of disrespect and violation of human rights of the peoples of the Pacific. It ignores our long history of campaigns against the use of Johnston Island as dumping ground for the US Army.

Pollution at Johnston Atoll

In October and November 1962, nine atmospheric nuclear tests were conducted at Johnston Atoll including four tests at high altitude. Johnston Atoll is still polluted by plutonium from the 1960s tests. Johnston was also used after the Vietnam War for the storage of hundreds of drums of Agent Orange. Many of these drums have leaked, polluting the environment with dioxin. Today, the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agents Disposal System (JACADS) is also used for the incineration of US chemical weapons removed from Germany at the end of the Cold War.

When a group of concerned citizens visited Johnston Island in April 1998, Mr. Gary McKloskey, the JACADS Project Manager, indicated to the group that the major plan now is to close down the JACADS facility by the year 2001, and convert it to a bird sanctuary. But even the birds would not want to live on a contaminated island if the US military continues to use it as a dumping ground!

To take PCB to Johnston Island as the holding site is simply adding to existing problems. It is continuing the use of our region as a dumping ground for US military toxics. US authorities say that they will only use Johnston to temporarily hold the wastes. But if the waste is allowed onto Johnston Atoll, it is likely that it will never be removed.

What you can do

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre/ Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement (PCRC/NFIP) request your support and solidarity by writing to the US and Japanese Embassies in your own country. Please express your concerns about their decision to use Johnston Atoll as a holding site for the contaminated military waste carried by the Wan He. Copies of your letters should also be sent to the following authorities in the US:

John Carroll US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) 75 Hawthorne Street (WST-4) San Francisco CA 94105, USA Fax 1 (415) 7442422

President Bill Clinton, US President, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, USA Email: president@whitehouse.gov

Senator Trent Lott Majority Leader of the Senate, US Senate, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510, USA Fax: 1 (202) 2242262

Please do not forget to send us a copy of your letter at PCRC. For further information, contact Losena Salabula (PCRC Assistant Director, Demilitarisation) - phone (679) 304649, fax (679) 304755, email

_________________________________________


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