On August 21, the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) and the National Safety Office under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce, provided President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. with a brief overview of the progress made in locating, securing and removing Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) on land and sea throughout the Republic of Palau.

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In its first three year plan from 2013-2015, JMAS reports discovery of 165 depth charges in Helmet Wreck, monitoring of depth charges and surveying of sunken ships and shallow waters. The agency has also sealed cracks found in depth charges to prevent leakage of picric acid, a toxic chemical compound that is dangerous to human health. JMAS has confirmed 36 vessels that sank in Koror State waters and as of date, 20 of these sunken ships have been recovered with assessment work ongoing.

JMAS further reported to the President that from June to July 2017, the agency surveyed and repaired pipes that were leaking oil to the ocean’s surface from a sunken Japanese tanker named Amatsu Maru.

Having entered their second three-year plan from 2016-2019, JMAS plans to expand its survey to Babeldaob, Airai and Peleliu.

In terms of ERWs found on land, NPA and the National Safety Office reports discovery of 6,203 ERW items from a 500-pound American bomb found in Kesebelau to sea munitions, grenades and projectiles since January 2017.

In its third year implementing the “Project to Capacity Develop the Palauan Authorities to Coordinate and Deal with the Residual ERW Problem”, the team has successfully completed non-technical surveys in all states of the Republic with the exception of Ngiwal and Peleliu while they continue to maintain a centralized national database and coordination system. This database is contains a detailed list of hazardous areas, identification of ERWs and other information concerning ERWs in the Republic.

President Remengesau expressed his appreciation of information shared by the agencies for better understanding of the progress of these projects and the challenges they face, and further expressed the national government’s continued commitment towards the safe removal of ERWs.

Furthermore, President Remengesau requested for NPA and the National Safety Office, JMAS and Cleared Ground Demining to work together to produce a consolidated report detailing the number of ERWs removed and disposed, and an accurate projection of how much ERWs presence remains in Palau. Additionally, he asked the agencies to cooperate and collaborate in addressing pipe leakages to prevent oil surfacing from sunken ships in the future. [/restrict]