Addressing Environmental Concerns in Vieques, Puerto Rico Through Community Participatory Research

Source: EPA.gov, February 20

Consistent with Public Law (P.L.) 115-141, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing this Request for Applications (RFA) “…to conduct research to facilitate the effective testing, evaluation, quantification and mitigation of the toxic substances in the soil, seas, plant, animal and human population of Vieques. This effort will fill an information void at this site, which functioned as a military training installation for decades, and serve as the baseline study for all potential future mitigation efforts.”

To implement the congressional direction in P.L. 115-141,  EPA is seeking applications proposing to develop a community participatory research program to facilitate addressing the following topics that will foster a better understanding of environmental contamination, impact, and mitigation options at the Vieques, Puerto Rico site which functioned as a military training installation: 1) develop approaches and methods to detect and characterize the baseline level of contamination in Vieques; 2) assess human health and ecosystem impacts caused by contaminant exposure in Vieques; and 3) develop innovative approaches to mitigate contamination and enhance remediation at the Site. In responding to this RFA, the applicants should propose projects that involve engagement and collaboration with community partners to conduct research that results in science-based knowledge to guide decisions that will better sustain a healthier society and environment in Vieques.

The ultimate goals of the solicitation are to solicit projects that: 1) fill an information void at this site and serve as the baseline study for all potential future mitigation efforts; and 2) help communities achieve their own objective of living in a healthier environment.

The study must be conducted by a University-led coalition which shall include a School of Public Health in order to be eligible for funding consideration. In addition, the applicant must provide a letter of support from the Municipality of Vieques (see Sections III.C and IV.C.11.a.).

Pertinent research includes approaches leading to the development of effective sampling and analytical methods to detect and characterize environmental pollution including contamination caused by surface and underwater munitions and/or its potential degradation byproducts, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic metals, and chlorinated chemicals. Pertinent research also includes characterization of contaminant transport, environmental transformation, routes of ecosystem and human exposure, development of approaches and models to characterize contaminant bioavailability, bioaccumulation, and prediction of impacts on ecosystem and human health. In addition, innovative approaches to mitigate contamination and remediate the impacted site in Vieques need to be developed.  Applicants should partner with a community or a community-based organization in Vieques and document an active partnership with a community or community-based organization, as well as the partner’s intent to participate in the proposed research.

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