OPINION: Panama’s  ammo challenge

An earlier search on Isla Iguana

On Wednesday [Apr,18] the sanitation program of sites contaminated with unexploded ordnance, an environmental legacy of the American military activities in Panama will be formally launched.

This effort is full of unknowns since the magnitude of the affected geographical areas is unknown inside and outside the old Panama Canal Zone. How much ammunition is there in the whole Republic? How much is unexplored? What is the level of contamination of the affected lands? Does the surrounding population know the dangers of similar coexistence? Unexploded ordnance (MUSE, in the slang of several conventions on the subject) include bullets, mortar shells, grenades and bombs that have been found throughout the country.  Iconic sites like Isla San José and Isla Iguana, Nuevo Emperador or Río Hato, are part of a little-known history that only now begins to be seen as a top-level environmental risk. The Rio Hato region will be the subject of a pilot plan to clean up the MUSE that can exist in about 7,200 hectares. However, the funds allocated only cover the cleanup of 5 hectares, with an estimated cost of up to $50,000 each. Although the task represents a challenge and will take generations to realize it, for this reason, the importance of this first step must not be ignored. Applause. LA PRENSA, Apr. 15