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Between 1901 and 1975, the U.S. military used Culebra and adjacent islands and cays. Initially, it was used as a coaling station and a radio transmitter facility. Eventually the U.S. Navy established areas for naval gun firing and aerial bombing. The U.S. Marines held advanced base defense exercises on the island that included land maneuvers, artillery and small arms firing, and amphibious training. The military stopped firing on Culebra in 1975, but munitions may still on the island and in the water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) on behalf of the Department of Defense. All of the island of Culebra, Culebrita, Cayo Luis Peña, Cayo Norte, other nearby cays and the surrounding waters are within the Formerly Used Defense Site. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers divided the site into 15 project areas. One of those is an area where metallic debris may have been discarded. In the other 14 areas, known as Munitions Response Sites (MRS), the Corps is concerned that there may be military munitions present.

 The entire Northwest Peninsula of Culebra was used for naval shore and aerial bombardment. The land, including Flamenco Beach, was transferred by deed to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which is responsible for restoration, including removing munitions. In response to a congressional request, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studied the part of the Northwest Peninsula the Commonwealth owns to determine the type and amount of munitions remaining. The Secretary of the Army received authorization from Congress to remove unexploded ordnance certain public use areas within the Northwest Peninsula under Section 317 of Public Law 113-291 in December 2014. These areas include portions of Carlos Rosario Beach, Flamenco Beach, Tamarindo Beach, the Flamenco campground, and Carlos Rosario Trail. The remaining acreage not covered by these areas remains the responsibility of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to restrict access and/or provide remediation. 

In May 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received authorization to conduct a Time Critical Removal Action at the Congressionally Authorized Areas within the Northwest Peninsula. The contract for the Time Critical Removal Action was awarded in June 2016, and fieldwork was underway when Hurricane Irma formed in the Caribbean.  The contractor teams left the island, and before they could return, Hurricane María further damaged Culebra.  After obtaining concurrence from the Culebra mayor's office and the Authority for the Conservation and Development of Culebra, the Corps' contractor remobilized and resumed operations in November 2017.  The contractor brought in additional teams to expedite fieldwork to complete intrusive activities prior to spring break and Holy Week.  In March 2018, all fieldwork operations were completed.  The Corps anticipates that the final report concerning the Time Critical Removal Action will be completed in early Fiscal Year 2019.

In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received authorization to conduct Time Critical Removal Actions at Cayo del Agua and Cayo Botella in June 2016. The fieldwork at Cayo Botella and Cayo del Agua are scheduled for completion in Fiscal Year 2019, with a final report on both projects in early Fiscal Year 2020.


Work Schedule

Culebra work on Cayo Botella and Cayo del Agua
(Spanish and English)


Culebra – Planned Detonations


Trabajos en Cayo Botella el 15 y 18 de enero:

El martes 15 y el viernes 18 de enero de 2019, el contratista del Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército de los Estados Unidos (USA Environmental) estará destruyendo municiones encontradas durante los trabajos de Acción de Remoción de Tiempo Crítico en Cayo Botella. Todas las operaciones se llevarán a cabo en tierra. Estas actividades han sido estrechamente coordinadas con el Servicio Federal de Pesca y Vida Silvestre, el Municipio de Culebra y las agencias ambientales. El 15 y el 18 de enero se establecerá un perímetro de seguridad de 1,000 pies, desde las 8 a.m. hasta las 6 p.m. El perímetro de seguridad incluye las aguas alrededor de Cayo Botella, por lo que se le solicita a los operadores de embarcaciones mantenerse alejados del área. Cabe señalar que personas en la isla pudieran escuchar las detonaciones o ver humo asociado con las operaciones. Si las condiciones del tiempo o alguna otra situación retrasan o no permiten al equipo realizar o completar los trabajos, las actividades se llevarán a cabo el día siguiente. De tener alguna pregunta, favor de comunicarse con nosotros a FUDS.PuertoRico@usace.army.mil o llame al 800.710.5184.

Work on Cayo Botella, January 15 and 18:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ contractor (USA Environmental) will destroy munitions located during the Time Critical Removal Action on Tuesday, Jan. 15 and Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, on Cayo Botella. All work will be conducted on land. These activities are being closely coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Municipality of Culebra and other resource agencies. A safety buffer of 1,000 feet will be enforced from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15 and Friday, Jan 18.  The safety zone includes the water around Cayo Botella, so boaters are advised to stay away from the area. Please note that people on the island may hear the detonations or see smoke associated with the operations. If weather or other delays prevent the team from completing the planned detonation activities, they will be conducted the day after. If you have any questions or concerns, please email FUDS.PuertoRico@usace.army.mil or call 800.710.5184.

Contact Information

Toll-Free 1-800-710-5184