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Environmentalists rescued from island

Wednesday 31 August 2016 | Published in Regional

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NORTHERN MARIANAS – A group of environmentalists who went to Pagan island to film a documentary titled Too Beautiful To Bomb and to get first-hand experience of the remote volcanic island had to extend their stay due to the bad weather earlier this month.

The trip was organized by the Alternative Zero Coalition which is composed of several local environmental groups opposed to “military plans that will harm the land, sea, and people of the Marianas.”

The 20-member group left for Pagan on August 10, and was originally due back on August 13, but they became stranded on the island due to bad weather and were eventually rescued and returned to Saipan on August 19.

The boat they went north with, the Super Emerald, was deemed too small and underpowered to make the journey back to Saipan safely.

They were eventually picked up by a cargo vessel, the MV Luta, which was sent to their rescue

According to Cinta Kaipat, Alternative Zero Coalition co-founder, the group is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against the US Navy filed by the Tinian Women’s Association, Guardians of Gani (Northern Islands), Pagan Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity.

They are represented by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm.

Their lawsuit opposes the US Navy’s decision to station thousands of Marines on Guam, and to conduct live-fire training on Tinian and Pagan.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin and representatives of the Center for Biological Diversity, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, wanted to visit Tinian and Pagan to get a first-hand look at the areas that the US military is proposing to use for live-fire bombings and other training exercises.

Kaipat said footage taken by the film crew will be used for a fundraising trailer to “show why we must not allow the US military to irreparably destroy our beautiful Pagan, the crown jewel of the Marianas”.

Henkin said “it is absolutely necessary and critical to be on the land, walk on the land, and be with the people who have lived there for many, many years. It would be a shame, such a shame to spoil the island, once they drop those bombs – it would never be the same.”

Kaipat, a former resident of Pagan, said the US military “wants to take the entire island and unleash its full-spectrum assaults from air, land and sea!”

The group thanked the owners and crew of MV Luta the US Coast Guard and all otehrs involved in organising the rescue mission. “We will never forget their selfless dedication to our safety and the great expense they took on to send the only ship willing to sail under those conditions.”

Kaipat said she is thankful for the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation for appropriating funding for the “Too Beautiful to Bomb” Project through the Northern Islands mayor’s office that allowed a film crew to go to Pagan.

“For this, we are truly, truly grateful,” Kaipat said.

- Variety