Friday, August 8, 2008
Government officials seek response plan to radioactive leak
Despite this government officials like acting Governor Mike Cruz, Speaker Judi Won Pat, and Senator Frank Blas Junior met today as they believe the leakage stresses the need for an independent process and protocol to monitor the leakage of waste in Apra Harbor and future leaks.
As we reported Senator B.J. Cruz recently introduced Bill 349 that seeks to appropriate $100,000 to Public Health's Environmental Health Division to conduct an independent investigation and study of the leakage of radioactive material into Apra Harbor by the U.S. Navy. The legislation would also require a permanent monitoring device be installed at the entrance of the harbor to detect and provide early warning signs of any radioactive contaminants that may be discharged into Guam's waters.
The acting Governor and Speaker Won Pat requested Bill 349 be placed on emergency status without a public hearing as lawmakers have already agreed to act expeditiously on the legislation. Public Health and Guam EPA are currently working with their federal counterparts to address the issue.
The acting governor adds that U.S. EPA has agreed that the amount of leakage was minimal however they are questioning how the data was presented and are recommending that Guam pursue independent testing.
In light of the leak and the Navy handled the release of information, Senator Ben Pangelinan sent a letter calling for major changes at Big Navy. "I believe that the actions of the local Naval command to withhold information of the leakage of the nuclear elements into Guam waters over a two year period is inexcusable and unacceptable and as such today I am sending off a letter to the Commander of the Naval Forces in the Pacific Admiral Keating in Hawaii for the removal of the local Naval command," the Democrat lawmaker stated.
Meanwhile Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo issued the following statement: “I have been updated on the status of the U.S.S. Houston incident. I was told that the valve leakage has occurred since 2006, which extended the number of locations which were potentially impacted. The Governments of Malaysia and Republic of Singapore were also informed that the U.S.S. Houston made port calls in those countries during this period. In addition, it is believed that this small amount of weepage from the valve and the subsequent tests of Apra Harbor by the U.S. Navy indicate that the leakage of water from the submarine did not harm the environment or place the residents of Guam or crew in danger. I will continue to work to ensure the safety of the residents of Guam as well as the sailors on-board our nuclear submarine force. I have requested and will receive a more comprehensive briefing from the U.S. Department of Energy, which has shared oversight on the safe operation of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion program. I also want to further explore how this defective valve went unnoticed during previous maintenance or while the ship was in service.”