To integrate the community into the restoration program, an extensive community involvement program has been established to disseminate information regarding the cleanup and provide a forum for the public to provide input. The Vieques Community Involvement Program promotes effective, two-way communication about the progress of the Navy’s environmental investigations and munitions response activities, with an emphasis on Munitions Safety. To enhance communication, the Navy has established an unusually comprehensive bilingual community involvement program, beginning in 2000 (several years before Vieques was placed on the NPL).
Community Involvement Plan
The Community Involvement program on Vieques is intended to make sure that community members have ample opportunity to voice their opinions and receive answers to their questions. The public will have several formal opportunities to comment on study documents and proposed remedies. However, questions and comments are welcome at any time during the study process.
EPA and the Navy worked with community members from Vieques to prepare and implement a Community Involvement Plan (CIP). The CIP describes how the community will be kept informed about the activities carried out under the Consent Order and how public input will be obtained. EPA conducted community interviews in December 2003 and the Navy conducted additional interviews in 2005. You can download the CIP here in English or Spanish.
Restoration Advisory Board
A Technical Review Committee was formed in 2001, including several local residents, to provide a forum for discussing the investigation and cleanup of western Vieques. In addition, periodic updates of the activities on eastern Vieques were provided at these meetings. In 2004, the TRC was expanded into a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), to involve more community members in the cleanup planning process. This group of interested Vieques residents and government representatives provides a valuable link between the Navy, EPA, EQB and the local community, as the investigation and cleanup of Vieques under the CERCLA ("Superfund") process continues.
RAB Meetings are always open to the public. The RAB meets every 3 months. RAB meeting dates are announced in flyers and by megaphone trucks in Vieques.
Access all RAB Minutes, Presentations, and files HERE!
News and Information
Flyers and newsletters about the Navy's environmental restoration efforts on Vieques can be found HERE.
Munitions safety is the Navy’s top priority during investigation and cleanup activities on Vieques. As part of the Navy’s commitment to protect the island’s residents and visitors, informational kiosks have been installed at Playa La Chiva (formerly Blue Beach), Playa Pata Prieta, Punta Arenas (formerly Green Beach), Playa Caracas (formerly Red Beach), and Puerto Ferro.
The kiosks provide beachgoers with information in English and Spanish about munitions safety.
Public Meetings and Community Events
The Navy hosts or participates in a variety of events and activities that provide information about munitions safety, keep community members updated on the status of cleanup activities, and provide opportunities to participate in the cleanup process.
Employment and economic support also is an important part of NAVFAC Atlantic’s involvement with the Vieques community. During FY10 and FY11 NAVFAC Atlantic contracted over $22M of their prime contracts on Vieques to small businesses (over 50% of their contracts), which exceeded NAVFAC’s small business prime contract goals. In addition, one of the prime contractors subcontracted over $5M in small business contracts (over 80% of their contracts) to small businesses.
An employment initiative by NAVFAC involved the training and hiring as UXO technicians of 81 local residents of Vieques. The residents were Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-trained and subsequently hired by the munitions removal contractors to assist in the cleanup by removing vegetation and collecting munitions-related debris. To ensure their safety, the trained locals work alongside experienced UXO Technicians. The integration of this local workforce has had significant benefits to the project, and the salaries of local workers have contributed over $5 million to the local economy in FY 2010 and 2011.
For more information about the Navy's Community Involvement Program on Vieques and the Environmental Restoration Program, contact:
NAVFAC ATLANTIC Public Affairs Office
6506 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk, VA 23508-1278