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Guam group fights Air Force plan to blow up bombs, munitions

Iowa Air National Guard KC-135 land at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam
Master Sgt. Richard Ebensberger/36th Wing Public Affairs
A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker lands at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Feb. 1, 2021. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)

HONOLULU — A community group on Guam is challenging the U.S. Air Force's plans to blow up bombs and other waste munitions at a base on the U.S. territory, saying it could contaminate water supplies and threaten endangered species.

The group devoted to protecting Guam's natural and cultural resources alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday that the Air Force violated federal law by not evaluating cultural and environmental impacts from open burning and detonating munitions on ancestral lands.

“I don’t want the Air Force to poison the ocean my children swim in, the water we drink, and the sacred land we all depend on,” said Maria Hernandez, a member of the group Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian.

The plan to burn and detonate about 35,000 pounds of bombs and other munitions each year in the open air on Tarague Beach at Andersen Air Force Base doesn't comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, said the environmental law organization Earthjustice, which represents the local group.

The Air Force’s plan could contaminate an aquifer that supplies drinking water to most of Guam, Earthjustice said, and explosions on the beach threaten endangered green sea turtles and migratory seabirds.

Representatives for the Air Force on Guam and the Department of Defense didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

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