US Navy Pledges More Money For Cleanup Of Island Near Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: The U.S. Navy has set aside US$200 million (€129 million) for the removal of military waste in Vieques island, just east of Puerto Rico’s main island, authorities announced Tuesday.

The money will be used in the next seven years to remove explosives in the island’s eastern region, the site of most previous military training exercises, said Richard Mach, with the Navy’s environment office.

More than 9,000 acres (3,600 hectares) of the almost 23,000 acres (9,300 hectares) that the Navy occupied for several decades will be scanned for contaminants, he said.

The Navy previously used Vieques as its main Atlantic training site, combining air, sea and land maneuvers. It ended them in 2003 following years of local protests after an errant bomb killed a civilian guard.

About 775 acres (315 hectares) have been cleared since the cleanup began in 2005, with officials uncovering nearly 15,000 live munitions and recycling about 1,900 tons (1,724 metric tons) of scrap.

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