Contractors working on clearing the TACMOR site in Angaur respond to questions regarding the environment currently being cleared for the construction of the US Tactical Mobile Over-the-Horizon Radar (TACMOR) Project.

271,807 square meters land in Angaur cleared fro TACMOR site

A lawsuit filed by the Angaur State Government against the governments of the United States of America, the Republic of Palau, and the contractors hired to clear the site of the US Tactical Mobile Over-the-Horizon Radar is currently pending before the courts.  The suit alleged that the abovementioned defendants violated Palau and United States environmental laws and terms of the Compact of Free Association that governs the utilization of land in Palau acquired for the United States military purposes.

The lawsuit alleges that the residents of Angaur are being adversely affected and the project is “damaging their reef areas and waters because of inadequate mitigation measures in and place and damages historical sites within the area designated for the TACMOR project.

The suit claims that 1,869 tons of lead-contaminated soil and 125 drums containing 92 tons of bitumen at the TACMOR Site expose the residents of Angaur and the environment to harmful poisons.

Q & A with CAPE (Contractor in charge of site clearing) through a third party.

Q. Approximately how many bombs (UXO) were collected from the site?

A.  232 rounds of unexploded ordinance (UXO), 20mm and larger, and 521 rounds of small arms ammunition (SAA) (50 cal and smaller).  During the UXO removal, an additional 20 tons of metal that was not explosives-related was extracted and placed with other metals to be consolidated on-site. (Subcontractor – Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is contracted for UXO removal.)

Q.  What was the approximate volume of tar on the land?

A. The project site had approximately 100 cubic yards of bitumen, a tarlike asphalt product.  Some of the material was still intact in drums, but a lot of the drums had corroded and the material spread out on the ground.  CAPE picked up the material that was on the ground and consolidated it with the intact drums.  The bitumen will be placed in super sacks and transported offsite for disposal to an authorized disposal facility.

Q. What volume of metals and other WWII debris were removed from the site?

A. CAPE removed 480 cubic yards or approximately 225 tons of metals  (including what NPA recovered) from the project site.  These include scrap from WWII as well as relic mining equipment that had been abandoned in a former phosphate mining pit.  This metal was removed and placed in a consolidation cell on the project site and treated with soft rock phosphate in case of potential lead contamination.  None of the metals checked on-site tested positive for lead.  The metal will be capped with a 30-mil liner and 2 feet of natural material.

Q. Was there any soil erosion into the sea?

A. We have not witnessed nor seen any evidence of stormwater leaving the project site.  Erosion control devices have been installed on the project boundaries per design, and the stormwater pollution and prevention plan submitted with our earthmoving permit package.  These are checked after every storm event or after 0.5 inches of rain or greater during a 24-hour period.  We are confident that no stormwater or surface water has entered the waters surrounding the project site during our construction.

Q.  What about the lead found in the soil?

A. CAPE will also be remediating lead-contaminated soil found in one of the former mining pits on the site.  1700 CY of lead-contaminated soil will be removed, relocated to a consolidation cell on the site, and treated with soft rock phosphate.  This will bind the lead with the soil so it cannot leach into water.  Then, the lead soil will be covered by a 30-mil liner and covered with 18 inches of soil and rock to further isolate it.  The area in the mining pit that formerly contained the lead soil will also be treated with a layer of soft rock phosphate.

Q. Were the Bekai (megapods) and animals on-site able to relocate elsewhere on their own?

A. The megapod, monkeys, and other wild animals were able to relocate on their own during vegetation clearance activities.  While clearing trees, our subcontractor, Pacific Limited Inc. (PUI) left narrow corridors of vegetation that connected with forested areas that are not part of the project.  The wildlife used these vegetated corridors to move from cleared areas to forested areas under cover.

Biologists from the Belau National Museum also studied 11 megapod nests.  Four megapod eggs were taken back to the Belau National Museum for incubation.  A megapod was hatched in captivity for the first time in Palau’s history. It was released into the wild 10 days later.  (By: L.N. Reklai)

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  1. Ko mesulang el melatk. A rokui el tekoi a di ngarngii a klungiolel ma kngtil. Mesa mal sekum eng betok a klungiolel e bechere melolemolem a ureor. A rua mongkii el diak belkul bai di uchul a telemall merko bai lemad el rokui. Ma rua bekai elik mla mo diak a rechad el mengiis a ngais. Subes e tia kuk di uldesuek e diak kiei ra Ngeaur mak di oltirakl aikel mo metib e meketmokl rar betok el chad. Sulang and May God bless our beautiful motherland of 323.

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