The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is considering a proposal from Japanese investors to lease Pagan Island as a dumping ground for debris from Japan's devastating tsunami of March 2011. This biologically unique island is home to several threatened and endangered species (such as the single island endemic subspecies of the Mariana fruit bat, pictured below) that are already trying to survive under challenging circumstances (Pagan is a prime choice for US military training/testing). Next week, Japan is sending experts to research a formal plan to mine pozzolan on the island as well.
Pagan Island is itself mostly uninhabited but beyond the biological dangers, the proposal is an insult to the people of CNMI. I don't think any country or community, no matter how large or small, appreciates the idea of being a waste dump site for another nation's garbage--especially one with land so disconnected from our already polluted world.
The 3-11 tsunami was one of the most atrocious events in current Japan and I understand the practical need to rid of waste from the incident. But islands in general are inherently some of the most vulnerable parts of our planet. Just because the human population is low in the region does not mean that the ecology of the islands wouldn't greatly suffer.
A petition has been formed to address this proposal. Surely we can find at least try to find a safer solution as long as we don't settle for an idea that simply takes advantage of the conveniently-voiceless.