May 9, 2003
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made great progress after a week of working to clean up from the incident on May 1st.
"While the incident was very shocking to us, we are cleaning up the mess and moving on," said Refuge Manager Oscar Diaz Marrero.
Hundreds of visitors have been visiting the two refuge beaches that have been declared safe for public use - Playa Caracas (also known as Red Beach) and Playa La Chiva (also known as Blue Beach).
"The cooperation with the Puerto Rican police agencies and the Puerto Rican Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and Department of Natural & Environmental Resources (DNER) has been absolutely essential in our ability to open the two beaches to the public," he said. "We couldn't have done it without them."
Diaz said maintenance workers are trying to fix the damaged vehicles to be able to keep the roads open, the beaches clean, and the people safe. They are also replacing portions of the cyclone fences with three-strand wire to keep cattle and horses from wandering onto the refuge where they could be in jeopardy due to potential contamination. Refuge staff and volunteers have also cleaned up the burned out vehicles and debris at the front gate to create a better entrance for the public.
The refuge staff expects to welcome a good turnout to the beaches this weekend to enjoy Mother's Day. The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.
Please also visit our Vieques National Wildlife Refuge site at http://southeast.fws.gov/vieques/ to learn more about the refuge.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345