[Coral-List] Majuro airport end run

Andrew Finlay finlayrao at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jun 18 15:25:08 EDT 2011


This is highly frustrating because PII have been disregarding environmental regulations for years, profiting from US donor funded projects. 

What happened to their suspended sentence when they were prosecuted for destroying another reef in 2008? Why has their poor environmental record not been taken into account by the FAA? To dredge the only decent reef left on the south side of lagoon is a tragedy. 

The Marshall Islands EPA, the nominated regulator, don't have the power to stop them, and the RMI Government are powerless to act, mainly due to lack of political will and financial weight applied by PII.

16 million for a pointless runway extension, just to comply with US Airport runway size Regs - what about complying with US environmental protection too?

This is an embarrassment and I share the dismay at the lack of support being provided. My respect for the US FAA has dropped to zero.

Former RMI EPA advisor

On Fri, 17 Jun 2011 08:02 BST Dean Jacobson wrote:

>Allow me to share a letter I sent to
>Things got a bit more urgent for the
>airport reef.  Today the acting president of the RMI, Jack Ading sent a
>letter to RMI EPA saying that because the runway project is important for the
>RMI, the planned reef dragline dredging should proceed without delay,
>regardless of environmental concerns.  This end-run has PII's fingerprints
>all over it..  (It is widely accepted that this largest of local
>corporations has considerable political clout). The RMI government’s letter of
>intervention is a direct response to my efforts to protect this reef... I was
>referred to as a "private consultant of the EPA" even though I am not
>working for EPA and have never received any pay from EPA.
>What is happening is that a very large
>reef is about to be destroyed by the very firm (PII) that will directly profit
>from it (its a $16 million project, and mining the adjacent coral reef is the
>cheapest source of fill); they are able to dictate that they will not be
>impeded by any environmental concerns.  They will be no meaningful
>Please be advised that while Jack
>Ading, in his letter, claimed that all regulations (i.e. the EIA process) had
>been followed (therefore what ever PII wants to do is a done deal), the fact is
>the EIA by Leo A. Daly was deficient and the public hearing in 2007 was very
>poorly attended.  In arguing that the runway extension is "important
>to the RMI" (which is debatable... it is important to PII) Jack Ading (or
>who ever wrote this letter, probably a PII officer) made no mention of the
>importance of coral reefs for shoreline protection or food security.
>This, in my humble opinion, does not
>let FAA off the hook.  The last time they funded an airport project (ARFF
>facility) the adjacent coral reef was dredged.  This is how things happen
>here, FAA is not able to claim ignorance.  The fact is there are no local
>environmental laws designed to protecting sensitive ecosystem. The 1987
>Conservation Act has not yet been passed.  EPA does not have authority,
>yet, to protect the environment.  Only FAA, the funding agency, the reason
>this project is moving forward, has any leverage..  FAA should and must
>demand that higher environmental standards be required for this project.
>Further, in this week's local paper
>(June 17 issue of the Marshall Islands Journal, in which I have published a two
>page spread on why coral reefs need to be valued and protected) it was reported
>that the movement of PII's giant 200 ton crane onto the reef flat will proceed
>upon FAA approval.  The issue concerns aircraft safety; the issue of coral
>reef safety was not mentioned.  To quote "It's a longer process
>because it is being reviewed by the FAA," he said.. "It's not just one
>office, but all concerned offices within FAA."
>One possible option (with recent
>president, concerning a proposed dry dock project) is to seek a court
>injunction, but I do not have $10,000 for the attorney fees. 
>I believe that when the resulting
>destruction of this reef, most likely to begin before the end of June, is
>publicized it will be quite embarrassing for FAA.  This embarrassment can
>be avoided, if common sense can be allowed to bear.  The RMI apparently cannot stand
>up to PII, but I am sure the US FAA can.
>Please advise, what can be (or is
>being) done about this within NOAA?
>Dean Jacobson, Ph.D.
>College of the Marshall 
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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