it was nice to see my quotes, the reporter
and I talked at length about the DU connection. Nothing was mentioned here.
FALLON -- Plans to end bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques have the Navy sizing up the Fallon Naval Air Station as an alternative training area.
The Fallon base, 60 miles east of Reno, could join a patchwork of bases replacing the Vieques training station.
President Bush said last month that exercises on Vieques will end by May 2003.
Base spokeswoman Anne McMillin said Fallon could host more training missions, but plans were uncertain.
"Ranges are at a premium in the Navy, and right now we're running at 75 to 80 percent of our range time," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We already get air wings and squadrons from both coasts."
Environmental groups oppose more bombing exercises in Nevada, however.
"Puerto Rico wants the Navy out, so what makes the military think we would want more bombs dropped on Nevada?" asked Kalynda Tilges of Reno-based Citizen Alert. "There is a childhood leukemia cluster in Fallon that shows the area obviously has some kind of environmental disaster going on. Once again, the military is being short-sighted and irresponsible."
Fourteen Fallon children have been diagnosed with leukemia since 1997, and one has died. An environmental cause is suspected, but health officials have no answers yet.
The Navy has said its activities in the area have nothing to do with the epidemic.
Tilges said the Navy already exploits Nevada land for training without considering the long-term environmental consequences of its actions. She said Nevadans want less, not more, combat training in their state.
"The Cold War is over," she said. "The Navy is ignoring the consequences of its pollution, and the nation continues to throw money into a big, black hole."
McMillin said pilots' training at the Fallon base is crucial to national defense. She said lessons learned at Fallon have saved American lives from the Gulf War to Bosnia.
"We can't maintain readiness without training," she said. "We balance the need for training with environmental stewardship of the land."
McMillin said the Fallon base could accommodate more fighter plane training, but it "can't duplicate everything they do at Vieques." The island also hosts Marine landings and bombardments from naval warships.
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