Navy Proposes Warfare Training Range in Pacific Northwest

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Sunday, October 17th, 2010

 

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The Navy has proposed to increase its warfare training operations off of the Pacific Northwest.   The 134 thousand nautical mile warfare training zone (right) is being called the Northwest Training Range Complex, which is actually part of a much larger project that encompasses the entire coastline of the United States and its territories including the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska. 

Proposed warfare testing includes but is not limited to: gunnery exercises, bombing missions, missile and torpedo firing, underwater detonations, research and testing, vessel sinking, undersea warfare training range exercises, mid and high frequency sonar experiments. Both land and ocean exercises will use planes, drones, rockets, and sonic booms.  The Navy has also proposed the use of hundreds of toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, cadmium, tungsten, and red and white phosphorus. 

The Environmental Impact Statement includes inadequate mitigation measures such as “establishing marine mammal safety zones around each vessel using sonar, and using Navy observers to shut down sonar operations if marine mammals are seen within these designated safety zones.” Ironically, the Navy has also published another document stating that estimated shipboard visual monitoring for marine mammals – the most commonly employed sonar mitigation measure – is only effective 9% of the time. 

Sonar is extremely dangerous to marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises.  These animals rely on their own sonar for food, navigation, mating and when high frequency sonar like the Navy is proposing to use reaches these mammals, they can be severly affected.  Sonar has a huge impact on marine life anything from frying fish eggs, disorienting marine mammals causing them to be stranded, to permanently damaging their ears.  Additionally, underwater explosions and mining fields, which are being proposed would result in instant death for these creatures. 

A navy report in 2000 said that sixteen whales from at least three species— including two minke whales—stranded…over 150 miles of shoreline along the northern channels of the Bahamas. The beachings occurred within 24 hours of Navy ships using mid-frequency sonar in those same channels. 

Beached whales, Western Australia, 10/3/09

 

On March 3, 2009, 192 whales and seven dolphins had beached themselves in Australia (left).  Twenty days later, on March 23, 2009 officials were trying to discover why 80 long-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins became stranded after a mass beaching at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia.  Also on March 23, 2009 a 30 foot juvenile grey whale washed up at Camel Rock Beach (below, note the gash wound on her nose).  Another whale was found that same day a few miles up the coast at College Cove Beach. 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT! The Final EIR was released September 10, 2010, and according to the Navy’s project contact person Kimberly Kler, all comments will continue to be forwarded to the decision-making body until the Record of Decision is filed, which is expected in late October. 

Dead Whale found on Camel Rock Beach 3/23/09

GET INVOLVED: Contact the Navy’s representative Kimberley Kler at (360) 396–0927, and demand that the Navy reopen the public comment period on the several thousand page document.  Contact Jane Lubchenco at jane.lubchenco@noaa.gov and request that NOAA deny the take permit based on insufficient environmental mitigations to protect marine life from the Navy’s Activities.  Warfare testing activities will result in the release of toxic chemicals into the food chain affecting everything from plankton to humans.  You can write to your local newspapers to get more media attention, contact your congressional representatives at 1(866)220-0044, board of supervisors, and other elected officials and make the case that these operations are unnecessary and would cause an undetermined amount of harm to marine life on our coast.  Ask them to hold a congressional hearing and to extend the public comment period for an additional 60 days for the take permit that NOAA is considering. 

How You Can Get Involved:

*Request a congressional hearing for the Northwest Training Range Complex and ask for the  NOAA and Navy’s Public comment periods to be reopened.  Express your opposition to the Navy’s warfare testing and its effects on the environment, marine life and human health.