US Navy pollutes the Chagos Archipelago

US Navy pollutes islands cleared of natives in order to ‘protect environment’

The US Navy has been discharging sewage and waste water into the British-owned and protected Diego Garcia coral lagoon since the 1980s, according to a new report by the UK-based Independent.

The base in question – located on the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean – has been the focus of intense lobbying by supporters of the native residents, who were resettled elsewhere in the 1970s in order to make way for a US naval establishment. The British government has stated on multiple occasions that those Chagossians could not return to the island due to its effort to maintain the area’s unspoiled habitat.

Despite these claims, however, scientists have found the state of the coral in the lagoon to be deteriorating, and have singled out increased levels of nitrogen and phosphate as the possible culprits. According to the Independent, the presence of these elements is likely the result of the US Navy dumping treated sewage water and other waste into the lagoon for the last three decades.

Although the British government was aware of the Navy’s behavior in 2013, it has only now been revealed to the public.

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One Comment

  1. Chihaya July 5, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    A strange arltcie which leaves readers in suspense. Are you trying to say that BES submitted its proposal in January without benefit of the knowledge of the Royal Holloway report? and by clearly stating the concerns raised in that report are you suggesting that the BES feels that its earlier submission was perhaps ill-informed? If you are I feel it would be sensible to be clearer and not to shy away from informing the review process on this front.I have stated publicly in many fora that, even if you care not one jot about human rights issues, there are strong biodiversity and arguments against taking up the line that BES has supported in its submission. Both Chagossians and Mauritians are infuriated by this process they are key stakeholders that have been sidelined. They support conservation, but now no-longer want an MPA. The political background for this MPA could shift within months returning Chagossians or the granting of full Mauritian sovereignty to the northern atolls (currently being discussed in Westminster) would both lead to the rescinding of MPA legislation, while many of the top conservation and reef ecology experts have engendered mistrust by their actions to date.Speaking up, even at this late hour, will at least improve the chances of establishing a strong conservation regime under a change of politics in Chagos and it is then that conservation will be most sorely needed.

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