The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) reacting to the release earlier this week of a study of the health risks on the Island of Vieques, just off the coast of Puerto Rico, by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
"The results of the ATSDR study on Vieques make me angry, sad and more committed to seeking justice for the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico than ever before. You cannot use the term science to paint over the injustice that has beset Vieques, because science implies truth, evidence, and reality. The ATSDR conclusions clearly disregard the evidence that is widely held and that has been shown by Puerto Rican scientists.
"The neglected but beautiful Island of Vieques has been bombed, strafed, shelled, and mutilated and now the same government that did all these things to an inhabited island says not to worry about the illness, death, mercury poisoning, and other heavy metals and chemical poisoning. Failure of the ATSDR to get the truth of the environmental hazard and go deep in its analysis could mean higher death rates due to cancer and other diseases.
"It is an outrage. The people of Puerto Rico and Vieques deserve more. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the end of the bombing in Vieques, this slap in our collective faces serves as a reminder that until the health, the environment and the well being of the people of Vieques are restored, we have nothing to celebrate.
"The beauty and safety of the precious Island of Vieques and the beauty and safety of its people must be defended and maintained for future generations."