On January 25, 2022, a local activist group, Prutehi Litekyan, filed a lawsuit against the US Air Force’s applying for a Hazardous Waste Management Facility Permit to burn and detonate military waste munitions as it does not comply with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).
Tarague Beach—the area the US military hopes to continue using for open detonation and burning—is on land occupied by Anderson Air Force Base. The location also houses land that had previously belonged to CHamoru families after being seized by the US military following the end of WWII.
Over the course of 7 months, the conflict has grown as more members of the island’s community join the group in advocacy for the preservation and protection of native land. The island continues to experience increasing protests, gaining more supporters each day with the help of social media activism and publicity through local news. Prutehi Litekyan has taken major steps to ensure that the legal fight continues receiving public attention, raising awareness throughout Guam. The growing number of recent protests supporting the call to action by Prutehi Litekyan have been organized to push back against Andersen Air Force Base’s application for the Hazardous Waste Open Burn and Open Detonation permit. Citizens are encouraged to produce written letters for both the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and local government members, asking them to deny the US military’s permit to use the native land of Tarague.
“We’re talking about hazardous waste going near our aquifer, our jungles, and our ocean. This is air that we breathe, it’s going to be close to homes, schools, ranches, farms, all in the north. And we as a community should be extremely upset that this is even considered,” Monaeka Flores, a member of the Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian movement, explained to Pacific Daily News.
Prutehi Litekyan has created a petition to show the community’s opposition to the use of sacred indigenous land and a letter-writing campaign, encouraging the citizens of Guam to directly communicate to the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and government officials their concerns. Local protestors continue to spread the word through social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook, further contributing to the number of signatures on the petition and allowing more people to join the letter-writing campaign. The permit is currently in the state of being reviewed as they await the Department of Defense’s assessment of the permit’s environmental impacts and any evaluations to open burning and detonation for the island’s land.
Editor’s note: This article at first incorrectly identified the area of Tarague. We regret the error.