Congressional_BillsHR1958IH

111th CONGRESS

1st Ses­sion

H. R. 1958

To amend the Mil­i­tary Con­struc­tion Autho­riza­tion Act, 1974 to repeal the lim­i­ta­tion on the autho­rized uses of the for­mer bom­bard­ment area on the island of Cule­bra and the pro­hi­bi­tion on Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment respon­si­bil­i­ty for decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion of the area.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 2, 2009

Mr. PIERLUISI (for him­self, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. GUTIERREZ, and Ms. VELAZQUEZ) intro­duced the fol­low­ing bill; which was referred to the Com­mit­tee on Armed Ser­vices


A BILL

To amend the Mil­i­tary Con­struc­tion Autho­riza­tion Act, 1974 to repeal the lim­i­ta­tion on the autho­rized uses of the for­mer bom­bard­ment area on the island of Cule­bra and the pro­hi­bi­tion on Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment respon­si­bil­i­ty for decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion of the area.

Be it enact­ed by the Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca in Con­gress assem­bled,

SECTION 1. DECONTAMINATION AND USE OF FORMER BOMBARDMENT AREA ON ISLAND OF CULEBRA.

(a) Find­ings- Con­gress makes the fol­low­ing find­ings:

(1) Cule­bra Island, Puer­to Rico, is locat­ed approx­i­mate­ly 17 miles from the east coast of Puer­to Rico’s main island, and the Navy con­duct­ed ship-to-shore bomb­ing exer­cis­es and oth­er live-fire train­ing activ­i­ties for over 70 years in unpop­u­lat­ed areas of Cule­bra and its sur­round­ing waters.

(2) In 1975, Con­gress required the Navy to close its oper­a­tions on Cule­bra in response to long-stand­ing con­cerns among the res­i­dents about safe­ty, health, and envi­ron­men­tal risks. The Navy moved its oper­a­tions to near­by train­ing facil­i­ties on Vieques Island, which were closed in 2003 due to sim­i­lar con­cerns.

(3) Although the Navy’s facil­i­ties on Cule­bra closed in 1975, the Depart­ment of Defense did not begin to address the cleanup of these areas until Con­gress enact­ed spe­cif­ic author­i­ties for the cleanup of for­mer Unit­ed States mil­i­tary sites in sec­tion 211 of the Super­fund Amend­ments and Reau­tho­riza­tion Act of 1986 (Pub­lic Law 99–499). With these author­i­ties, the Army Corps of Engi­neers added Cule­bra to the For­mer­ly Used Defense Sites Pro­gram in 1991, and for sev­er­al years there­after, per­formed rel­a­tive­ly lim­it­ed cleanup of unex­plod­ed ord­nance from the sur­face.

(4) In 2003, the Gov­er­nor of Puer­to Rico, Sila M. Calderon, request­ed that the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency add both Cule­bra and Vieques to the Nation­al Pri­or­i­ties List of the most haz­ardous sites. In 2005, the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency added Vieques to the Nation­al Pri­or­i­ties List, but delayed its list­ing deci­sion for Cule­bra. Instead, Puer­to Rico and the Army Corps of Engi­neers decid­ed to address the cleanup of Cule­bra under a sep­a­rate agree­ment, under which the Army Corps of Engi­neers has begun to plan a more com­pre­hen­sive removal of unex­plod­ed ord­nance on Cule­bra.

(5) The Army Corps of Engi­neers had spent $11,100,000 as of the end of fis­cal year 2007 on the cleanup of Cule­bra and esti­mat­ed that anoth­er $92,600,000 would be need­ed to com­plete planned cleanup actions. These amounts pale in com­par­i­son to the $77,600,000 the Navy has already spent, and the $253,100,000 the Navy plans to spend in the future, to com­plete the cleanup of Vieques.

(6) The more lim­it­ed scope of the cleanup on Cule­bra has become a ris­ing issue. The greater fund­ing for Vieques is not based on dif­fer­ing con­di­tions on the islands. Both were used for the same types of train­ing exer­cis­es for sev­er­al decades and are like­ly to con­tain sim­i­lar haz­ards.

(7) Instead, the dis­crep­an­cy is pri­mar­i­ly attrib­ut­able to the fact that cer­tain of the most poten­tial­ly haz­ardous areas on Cule­bra, includ­ing the North­west Penin­su­la and Fla­men­co Beach, have been exclud­ed from Fed­er­al cleanup plans because the Corps of Engi­neers main­tains that a 1974 Fed­er­al law pro­hibits the Army Corps of Engi­neers from con­duct­ing cleanup in those areas.

(8) Sec­tion 204© of the Mil­i­tary Con­struc­tion Autho­riza­tion Act, 1974 (Pub­lic Law 93–166; 87 Stat. 668) pro­hib­it­ed land uses in the ‘present’ (at the time of enact­ment) bom­bard­ment zone on Cule­bra that would require cleanup at the expense of the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment.

(9) Puer­to Rico asserts that spe­cif­ic author­i­ties for the cleanup of for­mer Unit­ed States mil­i­tary sites enact­ed lat­er by Con­gress in Pub­lic Law 99–499 super­seded this pro­hi­bi­tion. Despite these lat­er author­i­ties, the Army Corps of Engi­neers main­tains that the pro­hi­bi­tion still stands to exclude cer­tain areas of Cule­bra from Fed­er­al cleanup funds that oth­er­wise are avail­able to all oth­er for­mer Unit­ed States mil­i­tary sites in the 50 States and Unit­ed States ter­ri­to­ries.

(10) Based on its inter­pre­ta­tion, the Army Corps of Engi­neers has not includ­ed the North­west Penin­su­la and Fla­men­co Beach in the scope of its cleanup plan for Cule­bra. Because the North­west Penin­su­la and Fla­men­co Beach like­ly con­tain the great­est amounts of unex­plod­ed ord­nance on Cule­bra, pub­lic con­cern has grown about the exclu­sion of these areas from the cleanup effort.

(11) Sec­tion 2872 of H.R. 5658 of the 110th Con­gress, as passed by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, would have repealed the pro­hi­bi­tion in the 1974 statute, allow­ing the Army Corps of Engi­neers to expend funds to address poten­tial human health, safe­ty, and envi­ron­men­tal risks in the North­west Penin­su­la and Fla­men­co Beach.

(b) Repeal- Sec­tion 204 of the Mil­i­tary Con­struc­tion Autho­riza­tion Act, 1974 (Pub­lic Law 93–166; 87 Stat. 668) is amend­ed by strik­ing sub­sec­tion ©.