Fort Allen

The Fort Allen Puerto Rico National Guard site in Ponce, PR has no residents, but it does include barracks and receiver site for Over the Horizon Radar run by 20 civilian defense contractors, on 940 acres. The Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR) is part of a surveillance network which designed to monitor flights over an area encompassing more than 1 million square miles in South America. The ROTHR, developed by Raytheon, would consist of 34 antennas and support structures, 71 to 125 feet tall. The transmitter is planned for a 100 acre plot of land in Vieques. The site for the receiver was originally planned to be located in the Lajas Valley but was changed to Fort Allen due to protest regarding the military’s use of prime farmland and possible disruption of the community’s irrigation system.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) addressing the impacts of the proposed ROTHR system was released to the public in July 1995. Public comments received on the DEIS included concerns over the loss of 100 acres of farmland at a candidate receiver site in Lajas Valley. Based on these concerns, the Department of the Navy re-evaluated potential sites for the ROTHR system, and determined that a shortened receiver array could be installed completely on federal property at Fort Allen, a US Army installation located about 4 miles south of the town of Juana Diaz and 10 miles east of Ponce.

In order to provide for the immediate relocation and temporary housing of Haitian nationals, who were located in the State of Florida and presently in the custody of the United States, at a Federal facility known as Fort Allen, located in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, on October 1, 1981 the President determined it to be in the paramount interest of the United States to exempt Fort Allen from all the requirements otherwise imposed on it by the various environmental statutes. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and various citizens challenged the Federal Government’s decision to transfer Haitian and Cuban refugees from Florida to an abandoned Department of Defense facility in Puerto Rico known as Fort Allen. The Government had done nothing to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Executive Order No. 11593, or the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation implementing Section 106 of NHPA prior to beginning construction on the camp to ready it for refugee occupancy, although it had commissioned an archeological survey of the area after construction began. The district court found that construction of the camp was a major Federal action requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA.

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