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Court decision due soon on dugong protection

Date Posted: 2008-04-25

Environmentalists are waiting with baited breath on a decision from a San Francisco court on whether Okinawa’s dugong will be protected from construction plans in the Henoko area.

The environmental group has sued the U.S. Department of Defense, charging the Pentagon failed to consider the safety of dugong living in the waters near Camp Schwab, where plans have been made to construct a new military airfield that extends into Oura Bay. A decision is due this week.

“The Pentagon can’t lie about this,” an environmentalist says, noting the Defense Department had never conducted research investigations into the negative effects building an airfield would have on the dugong. The U.S. referred queries to the Japanese government for information on inspections data. The lawsuit asks the court to block the construction because the Pentagon violated the National History Protection Act.

Environmentalists contend American plans to build a seawall, and use the coastline for military port purposes are illegal. They also oppose reports the Marines plan to deploy the Osprey airplane in the northern area of Okianwa.

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