U.S. military revises plans for Okinawa, modifies Guam buildup

AP, Kyodo

The U.S. military’s revised proposal for the transfer of marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam calls for less population growth and locating a Marine Corps live-fire training range on an air force base instead of the site of an ancient village.

The Pacific Daily News reported the U.S. territory’s population will expand by about 10,000 residents at the peak of the buildup instead of nearly 80,000 under earlier plans.

Construction will progress more slowly, taking 13 years instead of seven.

On Friday the navy released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the project.

The draft document gives assessments of “no impact” or “less than significant impact” on the environment for a majority of aspects from building facilities, including the live-fire training range complex and housing.

Local leaders and residents had expressed concern the earlier plans would have negatively affected infrastructure, the environment and society on the small island.

Under the new plan, 5,000 marines and 1,300 dependents will move to Guam from Okinawa Prefecture. The old plan included 8,600 marines and 9,000 dependents.

The leaner buildup stems from a revised agreement between the U.S. and Japan in 2012. Some of the marines will go to Australia and Hawaii instead of Guam.

The new proposed site for the live-fire training complex is at Northwest Field in Yigo, which is part of Andersen Air Force Base. Before, the military had been eyeing more than 1,000 acres of private or local government land near the ancient village of Pagat, triggering an outcry on Guam and a lawsuit.

Marine housing will be built within the navy base on the island, instead of on civilian land in Dededo.

Legislative Minority Leader Sen. Tony Ada, a buildup supporter, said a quick review of the documents indicates “concerns expressed by our people have been given due consideration.”

Democratic Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., chairman of the Guam Legislature’s committee on the buildup, said he is still carefully reading through the document and it is too early for him to offer his reactions. He’s inviting residents to participate in his committee’s round-table discussion on April 28.

Three public hearings are scheduled from May 17 before drawing up a final assessment report by the end of the year.