Thursday, June 09, 2016

Navy to test jamming West Coast, more news

Navy to test jamming West Coast, more news

5 major stories, 2 comment periods open.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This is an update of recent events in a busy month. Please forward this to your own networks to help maximize the number of public comments.

1. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has decided not to clean up the toxic mess left by the Navy at “Naval Auxiliary Air Station Quillayute,†a currently unused 4,200 foot runway on the Olympic Peninsula west of Forks, WA. Until 3 days before the comment period closed, few knew about this because the USACE had failed to put the documents online; thanks to eagle-eyed people and others who quickly sent comments before that deadline, we got an extension that ends on June 26, and our request was granted for the documents to be put online. The documents are here:

Email your comments

Suggestion for incorporating into your comment:
I do not agree with the USACE’s decision to not clean up the toxic contaminants at Naval Auxiliary Air Station Quillayute. With its tetraethyl lead sludge disposal area, PCBs, VOCs and carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which exceed federal screening criteria, this area requires decontamination. Since carbon tetrachloride exceeding federal standards has been consistently detected in one residential water supply well, and has been occasionally detected in five other wells, and since the USACE’s report concludes with four major uncertainties concerning future use of the site, it would be a mistake to not clean it up. It’s widely known that Formerly Used Defense Sites such as NAAS Quillayute are often left heavily contaminated, so shifting the blame and thus the responsibility for the source of some of those contaminants from the Navy to residential use of household cleaning supplies is absurd and unethical. Unless this site is to be used as an emergency runway in the event of a major disaster such as an earthquake, I further categorically object to any reactivation of NAAS Quillayute by the military for routine or training takeoffs and landings of jets, helicopters or drones, or storage of fuel, weapons, equipment or other non-disaster military assets. 

2. A story on how the Navy is about to forcibly evacuate indigenous peoples from the island they’ve inhabited for 3,000 years so it can use the island as a live bombing range is here.  The West Coast Action Alliance is in touch with representatives for these people.

3. The FAA just issued a warning to pilots on the US west coast that the Navy will be testing a device (or devices) that will potentially jam GPS signals for as long as six hours per day on multiple days this month. A look at the map in this article that broke the story shows 9 states and large areas of Mexico affected with outages. Although news articles say that devices below 50 feet of elevation will not be affected, it’s widely known that hills exist in these areas. The map shows large areas of ocean will also be affected; GPS devices aboard commercial ships are often found in or near the wheelhouse, many of which exceed 50 feet above sea level. We have searched the internet for an EIS or an Environmental Assessment on this, because such widespread adverse effects would appear to qualify as a major federal action with potentially serious consequences for commercial and private aircraft and shipping; unfortunately, we have not been able to locate such a document. If that's the case, lack of NEPA and adequate public notification on such a project would appear to be outside the law.

4. Victims of hazardous Navy jet noise on Whidbey Island took their complaints and pleas for help to the Washington State Board of Health on June 6. According to Dr. James Dahlgren, whose declaration was shared with the Board, the noise that residents are being subjected to represents a “public health emergency.† Dahlgren is Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Toxicology. The State Board of health is being asked to get involved because reactions from the local board ranged from dismissal to ridicule. Story here.

5. A humpback whale died underneath the Navy’s docks at Bremerton last week. Necropsy revealed it did not die from starvation but from “more acute†causes, such as bruises caused by being trapped under there. This raises a lot of questions, such as: why did it swim under those docks? With the Navy’s most recent EIS stating it will be conducting 284 acoustic testing events per year at its docks, could the whale have been panicked by a sonar or acoustic blast? Story here.

Can anything be done about noise and marine mammals? Yes. Read about NOAA’s “Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap†summarized in this New York Times article and show your concern by sending comments Your subject line should say "ONS Roadmap Comments" and email your comments until July 1, 2016. Include any citations to scientific literature or analysis you know of, as this is a search for information, too.

The health of whales is an indicator of the health of our oceans. The health of our oceans is an indicator of the health of our planet. Even the most jaded person cannot ignore the fact that a group of scientists estimate our oceans are worth $24 trillion dollars, and that if the ocean was a country it’d be the seventh largest economy on the planet. Finance aside, the way we treat these intelligent cetaceans will be a measure of our collective humanity.

The way our military treats the people it is supposed to serve is a measure of the state of our democracy. The way the people respond to such treatment is a measure of their willingness to insist that their voices be respected.

Thanks for your caring and dedication.
The West Coast Action Alliance
Our News Stories page is frequently updated.

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