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U.S. NAVY TESTING PROGRAMS, NEW THREAT TO THE PACIFIC

 

 

By Rosalind Peterson
September 21, 2010
NewsWithViews.com

USA TODAY broke this news when they published a news story titled: “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” on August 5, 2010 [1]. According to USA Today news article, backed up by federal documents from the U.S. Navy and NOAA: “…The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training…activities that could injure hundreds of thousands of marine mammals or disturb their habitats…”

In a letter to NOAA, dated June 19, 2009, U.S. Senator Feinstein and U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman stated: “...In many regions, the Navy plans to increase the number of its exercises or expand the areas in which they may occur, and virtually every coastal state will be affected. Some exercises may occur in the nation's most biologically sensitive marine habitats, including
National Marine Sanctuaries and breeding habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In all, the Navy anticipates more than 2.3 million takes (significant disruptions in
marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors) per year, or 11.7 million takes over the course of a five-year permit...” [2]

The U.S. Navy is expanding their 5-Year Warfare Training in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho (NWTRC). The Final U.S. Navy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS), was released on September 10, 2010, and now is available for review, public comment, and protests by going to the U.S. Navy website [9]. The thirty day public comment period ends on October 11, 2010. File your protests and comments today with the U.S. Navy and NOAA. Let your elected officials know that U.S. Congressional hearings are needed now to protect all ocean areas, 11.7 million marine mammals, the fishing and tourism industries, our national marine sanctuaries, migrating whales, manatees, fish, their ocean habitats and food supplies, and public health.

There are many U.S. Navy 5-Year warfare testing areas, each with its own separate Environmental Impact Statement, in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. The filing dates for each one is different. What is the same for each of them is that they are mostly redundant in nature, testing the same types of live bombs, missiles, sonar, and other warfare methods.

Some U.S. Navy warfare testing ranges, like the Southern California Range Complex, 5-Year warfare testing are currently underway, unleashing their live warfare testing in the Pacific Ocean along the Southern California coastline. Unless we take action today more of these warfare testing ranges will be approved and unleashed over land areas and in every ocean environment as permits are granted for the “taking” of marine mammals by NOAA.

With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: “…(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]…training activities may expose some of the marine mammals present in the area to sound from various mid-frequency and high-frequency active tactical sonar sources or to pressure from underwater detonations..” [3]


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Many of these U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare testing range programs are ready to be implemented in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, and the Pacific in the coming months. With the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatening local economies, unemployment rising, the fishing and tourism industry in disarray, and the oil and Corexit pollution threatening this environment and human health for years, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force are now ready to start another assault on this area using multifaceted warfare testing experiments. NOAA is expected to issue permits to allow the U.S. Navy to “take” marine mammals in the near future in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific [6-7].

There are no real mitigation measures that would protect our oceans from these 5-Year Warfare Testing programs. NOAA’s comprehensive review is particularly important given that the Navy has estimated shipboard visual monitoring for marine mammals, the most commonly employed sonar mitigation measure, to be effective only 9% of the time. In addition, the Navy has admitted that they will not stop warfare activities when ocean migrations are underway. (U.S. Navy Final EIS Volume II Page G113 U.S. Navy Answer to public comment question: “…No, the Navy does not plan on suspending sonar operations during the gray whale migration seasons…”)

There are too many redundant warfare testing programs (each one with a separate E.I.S.), which may be extended without public oversight or consent once implemented. Fish, birds, marine life habitats, human health, toxic chemical usage, threats from oil spills, and bomb blasts that could trigger earthquakes or create underwater fissures are allegedly not part of the NOAA (NMFS), items of investigation at this time.

NOAA, in the past few months, since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has admitted that they know little about the marine environment in this underwater area. Thus, when NOAA (National Marine Fisheries Service), had previously approved the offshore oil drilling without appropriate safeguards for marine life. Now NOAA intends to issue more permits to the U.S. Navy and Air Force for warfare testing programs, which may exacerbate the current environmental problems in the Gulf of Mexico, without assessing current and future impacts of Gulf oil spills. In addition, NOAA will shortly be approving additional Navy Warfare Testing in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Our oceans and land areas, along with all inhabitants, are to be used as warfare test guinea pigs without public consent, debate, U.S. Congressional hearings or substantial public oversight.

We do know that many toxic chemicals are found in all ocean areas along with numerous dead zones [12-13]. According to a New York Times article on July 20, 2010: “…The Gulf’s floor is littered with bombs, chemical weapons and other ordnance dumped in the middle of last century, even in areas busy with drilling, and miles outside of designated dumping zones, according to experts who work on deepwater hazard surveys…” [14]

In many ocean areas, including the Gulf of Mexico, military dumping of arsenals, in the past, which now reside on our ocean bottom areas and contain toxic chemicals, could be disturbed by these bomb blasts and other warfare testing exercises [14]. The Navy Warfare Testing Program will, according to their E.I.S. documents: “…utilize mid- and high frequency active sonar sources and explosive detonations. These sonar and explosive sources will be utilized during Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Tracking Exercises, Mine Avoidance Training, Extended Echo Ranging and Improved Extended Echo Ranging (EER/IEER) events, Missile Exercises, Gunnery Exercises, Bombing Exercises, Sinking Exercises, and Mine Warfare Training…” [8]

The “Navy Warfare Chemical Menu” will contaminate our air, water, the ocean, and soil. Their list of toxic chemicals is a long one as noted in the Navy E.I.S: Red phosphorus, cadmium, lead, and a whole host of chemicals known to be toxic not only to man, but to marine life and fish, are being served up on this menu. In addition, highly classified weapons systems are also to be used during these 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments over both land areas and in all of our oceans.

Many of these 5-Year Navy Warfare programs are to be implemented in the near future and several have already been approved by NOAA and are underway in places like Southern California. On May 31, 2009, KTVU Oakland / San Francisco Channel 2 News, aired a Special Report on expansion of US Navy Warfare Training Programs into Northern California, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho [10]. This 5-Year Warfare Testing Expansion will implemented when the final Navy Environmental Impact Statement is finalized this summer by the U.S. Navy unless the public objects. NOAA is expected to issue a permit for the “taking” of marine mammals in these areas [8].

Concerned citizens in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California, along with citizens across the United States are protesting this action by the United States government and the United States Navy. Almost all of our elected representatives are silent when it comes to opposing this disastrous program. The major news media, with only two known exceptions, has elected not to cover this story leaving coverage to a few small newspapers located in remote areas. The only television station that has covered this issue is KTVU Channel 2 Investigation U.S. Navy Warfare Testing Program on May 18, 2009 [10].

Our U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House have refused, so far, to postpone these disastrous “takings” or hold U.S. Congressional Hearings while pretending to be ocean environment friendly in their re-election speeches. In addition to refusing to be interviewed by the press with regard to this issue our elected officials are refusing to hold U.S. Congressional hearings in order to protect our marine mammals, fish, birds, endangered species, and human health.

The U.S. Congress, NOAA, and the U.S. Navy are ignoring Chapter 5 of the April 2010, Report of the NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE – PRESIDENT’S CANCER PANEL “Exposure to Contaminants and Other Hazards from Military Sources” [8]. We do know that the U.S. Navy and the Air Force will be using toxic chemicals and other contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico and other ocean areas. We can’t afford to go forward with new forms of ocean and land contamination from these 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments until these issues are examined. Hearings should be held by the U.S. Congress in order to protect human and ocean health and the health of our marine mammals and our coastal fishing industry.

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It is time for all of us to step up and say “NO” to the U.S. Navy and Air Force War on our oceans. With the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill all we need now is to subject this area and the people who live there to another ecological disaster. Expanding and initiating warfare testing in more areas of the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico, will also spell disaster for our marine mammals and fish as well. We do not elect to be the guinea pigs for land test experiments or have our oceans used for massive warfare testing. Say “no” today…Ask for U.S. Congressional Hearings to protect human health and our marine mammals.

Footnotes:

1, USA TODAY News: “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” August 5, 2010
2, Many U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Environmental Impact Statements, U.S. Congressional Letters, and NOAA Documents regarding these 5-Year Warfare Testing programs are located on the following website
3, NOAA Definition of “TAKE” and a listing of U.S. Navy & Air Force requests for permits to “take” marine mammals in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.
4, NOAA Current Incidental “Take” Permit Requests & Authorizations – NOAA Website:
5, U.S. Navy East Coast LOA:
6, Eglin Air Force Base's NEODS Training Operations LOA to NOAA - Gulf of Mexico:
7, Navy's Gulf of Mexico Range Complex Training Exercises LOA:
8, U.S. Navy Environmental Impact Statements:
Northern California, Oregon Washington & Idaho and Atlantic Undersea Warfare Training EIS Hawaii Range Complex E.I.S.

Other Navy Range Complexes NEPA-See Partial Listing below:

- Jacksonville Range Complex EIS/OEIS
- Virginia Capes EIS/OEIS
- Navy Cherry Point Range Complex EIS/OEIS
- Southern California Range Complex EIS/OEIS
- Gulf of Mexico Range Complex EIS/OEIS
- Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training
- Mariana Islands Range Complex EIS/OEIS
- NSWC Panama City Division: EIS/OEIS
- NAVSEA NUWC Keyport Range Complex EIS/OEIS

9, The Northwest Training Range Complex Final Environmental Impact Statement was released on September 10, 2010, and the final public comment period ends on October 11, 2010.
10, KTVU Channel 2 Oakland/San Francisco Report on the Northern California 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments.
11, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk Annual Report NCI Presidential Cancer Panel Report April 2010: See: Chapter 5 Exposure to Contaminants and Other Hazards from Military Sources
12, July 6, 2010 Arsenic Levels Rise in Gulf of Mexico Herald Sun News
13, Scientific American August 15, 2008 Oceanic Dead Zones and Maps
14, The New York Times July 20, 2010 “The Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been A Dumping Site"

“…The gulf’s floor is littered with bombs, chemical weapons and other ordnance dumped in the middle of last century, even in areas busy with drilling, and miles outside of designated dumping zones, according to experts who work on deepwater hazard surveys…”

2010 - Rosalind Peterson - All Rights Reserved

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In 1995, Rosalind, now retired, became a certified California United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency Agriculture Crop Loss Adjustor working in more than ten counties throughout California. Rosalind has a BA degree from Sonoma State University in Environmental Studies & Planning (ENSP), with emphasis on using solar power, photosynthesis, agriculture, and crop production.

Between 1989 and 1993 Rosalind worked as an Agricultural Technologist for the Mendocino County Department of Agriculture. After leaving Mendocino County she took a position with the USDA Farm Service Agency as a Program Assistant in Mendocino, Sonoma, and the Salinas County Offices, where she worked until becoming certified as a crop loss adjustor for the State.

E-Mail: info@californiaskywatch.com

Website: Agriculturedefensecoalition.org/


 

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The U.S. Navy is expanding their 5-Year Warfare Training in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho...