3 Aug 2011

US FAA halts work on massive Marshall's airport safety upgrade

3:20 pm on 3 August 2011

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has halted work on what's thought to be one of the Marshall Islands' biggest construction projects over environmental concerns.

Fill material for the 16 million US dollar airport Runway Safety Road Realignment Project was to be dredged from an area parallel to the runway but a local marine specialist says the work will damage the coral reef there.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says there's pressure on the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority to approve an alternative dredging site.

"This airport construction project is estimated to involve as many as 170 jobs so it's quite substantial from the Marshall Islands' point of view and this is why the Cabinet has weighed in very heavily in support of the project and says it's a national priority to get it moving."

Giff Johnson says although the project's primarily about safety it could lead to extension work to accommodate larger aircraft.