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Back on the island, residents have virtually no access to health services.
Through his research, Massol Deyá has analyzed vegetation, forage samples, crabs, lagoons, and other food sources on Vieques, finding high concentrations of heavy metals throughout the island.Nature Serve Explorer Species Reports -- Nature Serve Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U. Nature Serve Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too.Nature Serve Explorer is a product of Nature Serve in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.While the Navy left Vieques from 2001 to 2003, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, released reports that found no causal link between the high rates of sickness and decades of weapons use on the island.The government sought proof of cause as its evidentiary standard.In an email, Dan Waddill, the Navy representative who heads the Vieques clean-up process, said the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, and governmental agencies overseas have studied the environmental and health effects of open detonations, and concluded that “open detonations can be conducted in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment.” He added that although the Navy had used closed detonation chambers in the past, the practice is “not common” and that exposure to the large, unstable munitions in Vieques could put site workers at “undue risk.”Massol Deyá thinks the clean-up can be done differently, but is more concerned about what he sees as the Navy’s lack of transparency.
“Since we don’t know everything that was thrown there, the quantity, or the places, you can’t define what you should fear, what you should clean,” he said.The study recommended that the Department of Health carry out a public-health assessment of environmental conditions on the island.The report went essentially unrecognized until waves of protests pressured the Clinton and Bush administrations to withdraw military presence from the island.Myrna Pagán, a cancer survivor from Vieques, said there are a handful of primary doctors on the island, but no specialists who can treat the growing number of patients undergoing dialysis.To receive chemotherapy, cancer patients have to travel to San Juan—an 80-mile trip over sea and land.Congress also condemned the agency for failing to protect public health.