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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gun owners advocate rejects environmentalists’ statements about proposed Salinas firing range

Ariel Torres Meléndez, president of the Corporation for the Defense of Weapon License Holders of Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

Ariel Torres Meléndez, president of the Corporation for the Defense of Weapon License Holders of Puerto Rico (CODEPOLA by its Spanish initials) said Wednesday that a proposed firing range project in Salinas will not be built on the Southern Aquifer, nor will it contaminate it.

He said the whole ordeal that he has had to face in trying to advance the project is due to the pressures of environmental groups that want to use political power to stop development, without taking into account scientific studies which he said show that no environmental damage will be caused by the firing range.

“It was not strange to see that various environmental groups demanded that Governor Pedro Pierluisi sign” before Sunday, Dec. 18, House Bill 474, a measure that would allow every citizen to defend the protection of natural resources under threat before the island’s administrative and judicial forums, Torres Meléndez said.

He confirmed that, due to what he said were false accusations by a group of political and environmental activists, CODEPOLA filed several months ago a defamation lawsuit and injunction under the number S A2022CV00024, consolidated with the SA2022CV00025 against the entity ASPA Inc., Mr. José Juan Cora, Mr. Rafael Díaz Martínez and others.

“Without scientific proof or evidence to support their attacks on the alleged danger of environmental pollution that could be caused by the proposed polygon project, these people have engaged in defamatory statements in traditional media, on social networks and in public places,” Torres Meléndez said. “But if the regulations are approved, any entrepreneur, merchant or developer or citizen would be guilty of environmental crimes only [according to the word of] any environmental fanatic, without scientific basis or studies to support it.”

To refute the statements of the defendants, he noted that CODEPOLA hired a hydrologist, Ángel Román Más, to conduct a study and assist it in the preparation of an expert report on technical and environmental aspects of the firing range project.

“The final findings of that Expert Report unequivocally reflected that the farm where the firing range project is located is not located on the Southern Aquifer (also known as the Salinas Aquifer), nor are there currents or bodies of water that connect the farm with that primary body of water body.”

The final findings of the expert report regarding the farm or property where the development of the project is proposed confirm that it is located outside the area occupied by the Salinas Aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water for all the inhabitants of that municipality. In addition, it identifies the characteristics of the farm or property where the shooting range project is located.

The expert report to which Torres Meléndez refers indicates that the property is located outside the alluvial deposits that contain the main aquifer, the Salinas Aquifer, of the area and from where water is extracted for domestic and agricultural uses, the CODEPOLA president pointed out.

He added that no protected species or species of special interest to federal or local regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the island Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, are present, nor is the area designated as “critical or essential natural habitat” in the report.

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