Stop the US Air Force Plans to Blow up Bombs and Pollute Air, Land, and Water in Guam

Stop the US Air Force Plans to Blow up Bombs and Pollute Air, Land, and Water in Guam

4,347 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
Petition to
Guam Governor

Why this petition matters

Started by Save Ritidian

The Air Force violated federal law by failing to evaluate the cultural and environmental impacts from open burning and open detonation of hazardous waste munitions on Tarague Beach in Guam or consider alternative, environmentally preferred technologies for weapons disposal.

The proposed open burning operations at Tarague Beach would involve putting hazardous waste munitions in a large metal container that is open to the air, pouring diesel on top, and then lighting the munitions on fire. Open detonation operations would consist of blowing up bombs, rockets, and other hazardous waste munitions directly on the bare sand. Open burning and open detonating (“OB/OD”) of munitions releases both toxic chemicals—such as RDX, HMX, TNT, perchlorate, and dioxins/furans—and unexploded ordnance directly to the surrounding land, air, and ocean.

Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Air Force’s failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) for its plan to burn and detonate about 35,000 pounds of bombs and other hazardous waste munitions each year in the open air on Tarague Beach in northern Guam, less than 200 feet from the Pacific Ocean.

The Air Force violated NEPA when it applied for a Hazardous Waste Management Facility Permit for OB/OD of munitions at Andersen Air Force Base without first considering the potentially significant cultural and environmental impacts from OB/OD or alternate means to dispose of munitions that have fewer environmental impacts. 

The Air Force plans to conduct OB/OD operations on ancestral lands that the military seized after WWII from CHamoru families, who hope to see the return of these lands in the future. The proposed OB/OD operations could permanently contaminate the area with unexploded ordnance and toxic chemicals, effectively precluding the return of these lands to the families that originally owned them.

OB/OD of hazardous waste munitions began at Andersen Air Force Base in 1982, but no open burning has occurred in the past two decades. The Air Force has never conducted the legally required environmental review for OB/OD operations, despite the potentially significant harm to the surrounding environment. The OB/OD site is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean (which lies about 180 feet away) and the jungle (80 feet away), and it sits above a shallow unconfined aquifer.

OB/OD operations could contaminate the aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than eighty percent of Guam’s population. Contaminants also could enter the ocean, harming local families that frequent nearby beaches and culturally significant fishing sites. The explosions from open detonation on the bare sand of Tarague Beach threaten harm to endangered green sea turtles, which nest there, and migratory seabirds that frequent the beach.

In 2019, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report on “Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions” that concluded that “[v]iable alternative technologies exist within the demilitarization enterprise” for all the munitions that the Air Force seeks to treat with OB/OD at Andersen AFB. The study further concluded that, as compared to OB/OD, the alternative technologies would all have “lower emissions and less of an environmental and public health impact.”

Tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, and the Governor of Guam that this cannot be permitted to happen in Guam.

Read the media release and find the complaint here:

4,347 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!