Håfa Adai Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield,
It is with great disappointment that I write to you. As a senator elected by the people of Guam, I have grave concerns regarding the activities in an announcement made on the Federal Register on April 21, 2017 which states, “the Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone for underwater detonation operations in the waters of Apra Outer Harbor and Piti, Guam” from “8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on April 27th through April 28th, 2017.” What is its purpose? How will these explosions and subsequent shockwaves affect the marine ecology? Will this activity have a negative impact to local commerce? Are all risk-mitigations being applied?
According to the Federal Register, the Coast Guard assert that the Navy gave them notification on March 9, 2017 and that this untimely notification did not provide them with enough time to receive community input. It is the assertion of the Coast Guard in this announcement that there is good cause to find community input by the people of Guam as “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” However, I must vehemently disagree as this activity may negatively impact our local marine life habitat and the surrounding environment.
Consideration and cooperation between the U.S. military and the local government are essential in American democracy and most especially in maintaining harmony within our unique island community. The people of Guam are not ignorant to the fact that extended through the Federal Government that the Department of Defense has near free reign on Guam’s waters. However, consistent reminders of Guam’s non-status as a non-self-governing territory such as these detonations of explosives are inconsiderate and dismissive to the local community.
I would have expected you, as a flag officer, to be well-informed on Guam’s history, and furthermore I would have expected you, as the Senior Military Official of Guam, to be more sensitive to a community that has previously lived under military dictatorship under the U.S. Naval administration. You were present during Congresswoman Bordallo’s address in which she frequently referenced federal partnership. Unilateral decision making and restricting community input is not in the best interest of a mutually beneficial relationship expected in a partnership. Therefore, I strongly urge you to delay the scheduled detonation to allow for input from our community.
Senator Fernando Barcinas Esteves