Rear Admiral Chatfield responds to firing range questions

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(PNC photo)

Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral Shoshanna Chatfield has responded to questions about things like excess federal land, the choice to put the proposed firing range at the Northwest Field, access to private property, and the chemicals that will be left behind by spent ammunition.

Guam – Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield has responded to a series of questions surrounding the proposed firing range at the Northwest Field in a letter from Senator Frank Aguon Jr. The Senator’s letter compiled questions that weren’t fully answered during a roundtable discussion held on October 5th. The Senator promised to follow up on these questions, so he wrote a letter to the Rear Admiral with the list of questions attached. Today (Tues) the Senator released the response he received from the Rear Admiral.

One of the questions asked was how DOD was able to get property like Andersen South and South Finegayan back into their coffers after it was returned “through GSA by the ancestral lands commission?” Rear-Admiral Chatfield’s response was that the properties in question were actually subject to the Guam Excess Lands Act which requires that final disposition of the lands be subject to a “federal agency utilization screening before transfer to the government of Guam.” Andersen South and South Finnegayan were retained by the federal government as a result of this screening.

Another question asked was “who were the 13,000 individuals mentioned who did not want the live fire range in Pagat and instead wanted the range in the Northwest Field?” Chatfield’s response was that the 13,000 people who signed a petition by the Community Advocates for the Raceway (CAR) organization were in essence signing a petition that was opposed to the range at Pagat but in favor of having the range at the Northwest Field.

There was also a question about denying access to original landowners at Jinapsan, Urunao and Ritidian. DOD’s response is that “the Marine Corps relocation does not propose any access restriction to private property.” Instead there will be “only partial restrictions (up to 39 weeks a year) to those publicly-accessible federal jurisdiction areas of the Ritidian unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge.”

Another question asked was about the kind of chemicals that will be left behind by spent ammunition and how DOD was planning on disposing of ammunition. For the specific types of ammunition and chemicals that could be left behind, DOD directed the public to the 2010 Final Environmental Impact Statement. As far as disposing of ammunition, DOD says the Navy will develop “range specific standard operating procedures” which will include procedures for range clearance. This could include clearing the range every five years.

Another question was about the risk of lead dust from the ammunition. Chatfield’s response is that these risks were analyzed under the 2015 Final SEIS which “found that the great distance of residents and Guam’s high average rainfall resulted in insignificant impacts from lead dust.” In addition there would be bioswales and water quality basins to “help reduce the likelihood of lead dust migration into the aquifer.”