Jacksonville, Fla. (Aug. 9, 2012) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Jacksonville District along with representatives of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other stakeholders met in San Juan August 8 for a Technical Project Planning meeting, to discuss plans for the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for water areas around Culebra, Culebrita and the smaller surrounding cayos. With the commencement of this work, all offshore water areas around Culebra that have been identified as having potential to contain military ordnance will be under investigation.
The island of Culebra was used by the U.S. Navy for military maneuvers and live-fire training between 1903 and 1975. Munitions and related debris still remain. USACE is investigating under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites, to determine the nature and extent of contamination so that plans may be made to address the remaining munitions. Reports are expected to be completed in 2014 and will be shared with the public for review and comment.
USACE prioritizes and implements response actions according to the level of risk to human health and safety; those sites determined to pose the highest risk are addressed before sites posing less risk. In the meantime, as military munitions are known to be on the island and in the water, members of the public and visitors to Culebra are reminded to follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize that munitions are dangerous; Retreat, without touching or moving the object; and Report the location of the finding immediately by calling local law enforcement.
Release no. 12-062