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Water Testing for Navy Contaminants on Whidbey Island

COER was sent this notice from Whidbey Water Keepers. This is a good idea – but hurry if you want to join! The deadline is this Friday.

 


Please respond by APRIL 14th to secure low cost water testing for your household.

Whidbey Water Keepers is organizing a coordinated water sampling opportunity for Central Whidbey residents. It is important that as many Central Whidbey residents as possible get their private wells tested to give our community a fuller understanding of the path and degree of water contamination.

Jennifer Miller at Vista Analytical Laboratory has offered us a discount on the $275 standard rate which includes testing for all 6 chemicals and a turn around time of 14 days. The discounted cost per household will be $245. This is one of the two labs that has been recommended to our community for their quality of testing. The chemicals they will test for are PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFHpA, PFNA and PFBS. The latter 3 are critical in being able to demonstrate a link to the fire fighting retardant used by the Navy.  The Navy did not test for the 3 chemicals that would link them to the firefighting foam.

We need 14 households to submit water samples from their taps on the same day in order to qualify for this discount. If we do not get 14 households, then we will all submit separately and they will still turn around the test results to us individually in 2 weeks. We are working to secure funding to support households needing financial assistance; we will be sending a subsequent email on this.

Below are links to materials from Vista Analytical Laboratory and the one page information sheet on water sampling.

Thanks for getting back to us quickly!

Whidbey Water Keepers

CONTACT EMAIL: aharvey@antioch.edu

Vista Brochure

How to Have Your Water Independently Tested

PFAs Information Sheet

Kilmer Questions Navy Jet Training

Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-6th District) sent off several letters requesting more information about the Navy’s plans concerning the Growler, and how it impacts the environment and his constituency.

In each of his letters, he began: “Given your agency’s mission, I request assistance in further understanding your recent and ongoing efforts impacting Washington’s Sixth Congressional District. Like many of my neighbors, I want my kids, and their kids to enjoy the pristine environment that I have been privileged to experience.”

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The Navy's Wrongheaded Approach to Whidbey Island Jets - Brian Cullin

According to Brian Cullin, who wrote an opinion piece for the Seattle Times today, the Navy is eventually going to have to figure out how to work with the local citizens instead of rolling over them. He says if it doesn’t, the Navy will inevitably “lose”.

Who is this Brian Cullin, and why does he think he knows anything about this subject?

He is a retired Navy captain who most recently served as a senior adviser at the State Department. In the ’90s he served as assistant White House press secretary in the Clinton Administration.

Here is his letter, below. The original publication with the Seattle Times can be seen here.

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Governor Inslee's DEIS Comments - Navy Jets - Whidbey Island

Recently (as we hope everyone has), Governor Inslee submitted his comments to the Navy’s Draft EIS proposals. Here are his thoughts on the subject.

A PDF of the original letter with Governor Inslee’s DEIS comments can be seen HERE.

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Port Townsend to send letter to Navy about Jet Noise

(from the Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend City Council to send letter to Navy about Growler noise

The letter will say the area of study for potential effects of increased Growler operations at Whidbey Island is too narrow.

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council will send a letter to the U.S. Navy raising concerns over potential increased jet noise.

The letter to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Commanding Officer Capt. G.C. Moore will say the area of study for potential effects of increased Growler operations at Whidbey Island is too narrow.

During the City Council’s meeting Monday, Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval said the city’s letter should include both historic districts in the city and Fort Worden.

“The city disagrees with your area of study, as well as your definition of the indirect effects component of the APE [area of potential effect],” the letter says.

Councilman Robert Gray said he was concerned about the noise’s impact on the historic buildings.

“I think it could be clarified that we are also concerned about the buildings,” he said.

He also suggested adding more language thanking the Navy for being good neighbors for the past 74 years.

“We’ve benefited from that,” he said. “We’re strong supporters of the military.”

In a July 12 letter to Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, Moore requested feedback from the city on the Navy’s proposed APE for increased Growler operations on Whidbey Island.

The Navy is preparing a draft environmental impact statement on a proposal to add up to 36 EA-18G Growler jets to the 82 currently based at NAS Whidbey Island. The statement is to be released in the fall, according to www.whidbeyeis.com.

The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an electronic warfare aircraft used to suppress radar.

Its operations have been a topic of controversy on Whidbey Island and parts of the North Olympic Peninsula since the jets began flying over the area in 2008.

During public comment, one unidentified man lauded the council for writing the letter to the Navy.

To support the mission at Whidbey Island, the Navy proposes to:

• Continue and expand electronic attack operations at the complex, which includes Ault Field near Oak Harbor and Outlying Landing Field (OLF) Coupeville.

• Increase electronic attack capabilities and augment the Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron to support an expanded Department of Defense mission for identifying, tracking and targeting in a “complex electronic warfare environment.”

• Construct, demolish and renovate Ault Field facilities to accommodate additional aircraft.

• Put more personnel and their families at NAS Whidbey Island and the surrounding community.

The Navy has defined areas of potential indirect effects as places where noise remains within 65 decibels, a federally accepted metric used by the Federal Aviation Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense and other agencies.

The proposed actions would not result in a 65-decibel average anywhere in East Jefferson County, according to Navy sound maps.

In the response from the city, officials said the 65-decibel baseline is a day-night average measured over the course of a year.

“While this is the FAA standard, FAA policy does not preclude local jurisdictions from setting a lower threshold of compatibility for new land use developments, and the policy allows for supplemental or alternative measurements,” the draft letter says.

“The average decibel level in the city, especially at night, is likely to be very low — even below 55 [decibels] in certain parts of the city.

“Growler operations are not continuous; the noise impacts of the operations vary based on the exercise, but include flights over and near the city for hours at a time — frequently at night.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen contributed to this story.

Peaceful Skies Coalition

Please support the Peaceful Skies Coalition, an all volunteer 501c3 organization.

NO to war training in the fragile high country of the West.

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Resolutions vs Navy Warfare Training in Washington State

Resolutions opposing Navy warfare in civilian areas pass in three western WA counties. But there’s bad news for whales.

On Sunday, May 1, official resolutions opposing the Navy’s plans and highlighting their lack of regard for public health and the environment were passed (most of them unanimously) at Democratic County Conventions in Jefferson, Clallam, and San Juan Counties. Click on the county names to read the draft versions as submitted. The Clallam County resolution calls for the Navy to abandon its plans for an electronic warfare range over our communities and public lands; the Jefferson County resolution calls for a complete EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) on the electronic warfare range and a chance for authentic participation by the public, and the far more detailed resolution from San Juan County lays out a set of actions that must be taken in order to preserve public health and environmental and economic integrity.

Does public opposition get results? Yes.

1.) The Army has withdrawn its request to use the North Cascades for combat helicopter landings due to public opposition. Senator Patty Murray helped on that one, so now it’s time to ask for her help with the Navy encroachment.
2.)  The Forest Service has pushed back the permit for the mobile emitters on Olympic National Forest roads by 21 months, for the same reason. Latest news is the “objection period” for letters from the public will start in June, in preparation for their September decision announcement.
3.)  As of May 3, 2016, the Navy still hasn’t signed its final Record of Decision on the ocean-based part of its activities described in its October 2015 EIS, called Northwest Training and Testing, because the Endangered Species Biological Opinion by the Fish and Wildlife Service is still not complete. The USFWS is keenly aware of public concerns, and this 7-month delay is unprecedented.
4.)  The Navy also pushed back their Draft EIS on Growler jets to autumn, for reasons that are unclear.
5.)  News media are picking up on military encroachment on public lands, waters and in skies over our communities, and on the ethical lapses leading to wrongdoing. Our media page is frequently updated with stories.

List of ways the public is getting results:

  • Presentations to various local commissions, health boards and Tribes: Several
  • Public presentations in various locations: at least 15
  • Social media sites: at least 8
  • Numbers of opposition groups formed: At least 20
  • Letters to editors of local papers: Too many to be counted
  • Written public comments to Forest Service: 4,000
  • Written public comments accepted by Forest Service: 3,300
  • Written public comments accepted by Navy for official record: 1054
  • Written and oral public comments not accepted by Navy: At least 1,000
  • Form letters of objection to Navy: 9,700
  • Petitions objecting to proposed Navy activities: At least 5
  • Numbers of petition signatures: At least 150,000.
  • County resolutions passed: at least 4 (including two in 24th Legislative District)
  • Number of news articles/op-eds in 2014: 5
  • (including L.A. Times piece on this topic flying under the public radar)
  • Number of news articles/op-eds in March-April 2015: 38
  • Number of news articles/op-eds in March-April 2016: 59

Opposing unfair decisions by our government still works.

All those letters to editors you’ve been writing, all the letters to politicians at national and local levels, all that sharing of posts on social media, plus comments on what few public documents we are allowed to comment on, and calls to officials when Navy jets fly too low, are helping to increase public momentum.

 

But you might want to be sitting down when you read the next part.

Using baseline and projected figures listed in the Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing EIS (Environmental Impact Statement,) and from NOAA’s permits for the Navy to “take” marine mammals, the West Coast Action Alliance crunched the numbers. A “take” is a single action to a single animal on a sliding scale of harm ranging from harassment to death. Obviously, most takes are on the harassment end of the scale, but some injuries and deaths are included.

The problem is, when you realize multiple harassment incidents to the same animal are allowed, such as more than 60,000 takes on a population of 21,000 gray whales, and when you realize that sonar at 235 decibels at the ship source can still be a harmful 140 decibels at 300 miles from the source, it adds up to an ugly picture where injury to sensitive tissues and multiple hazings out of important feeding areas are far more likely.

These new levels of Navy activity are a lot more impactful than the Navy’s simplistic claims of “no significant impacts” reveal. Among the increases:

72% increase in electronic warfare operations,
244% increase in air combat maneuvers (dogfighting)
400% increase in air-to-surface missile exercises (including Olympic National Marine Sanctuary),
400% increase in helicopter tracking exercises,
778% increase in number of torpedoes in inland waters,
3,500% increase in number of sonobuoys,
72% increase in chaff dropped from aircraft (contains tiny glass fibers and more than a dozen metals,)
1,150% increase in drone aircraft,
1,150% increase in drone surface vehicles,
1,450% increase in expendable devices.
These are just a few. The EIS can be read here; the figures came from Volume 1.

The numbers of takes for whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions are horrific: 

For the Northwest Training and Testing Range, Northern California to Southeast Alaska: 1.2 million.
For the Hawaii-Southern California area: 9.4 million.
For the Gulf of Alaska: 2.1 million
For the Marianas Islands in the western Pacific: 393,000.
Total takes for just 4 EIS’s (does not include the dozens of other projects the Navy is doing): nearly 12 million.

To see a species-by-species breakdown, click here. To read the latest WCAA post for a more in-depth explanation, click here. And feel free to share it on social media, the word needs to get out.

What can you do?

1.) Circulate this information; most people are still not fully aware of the situation. If everyone shares this post on social media and forwards this email to 10, 25, 100 people, it will make a big difference.
2.)  Keep writing those letters and comments. Addresses are here.
3.)  Stay informed on the issue. Besides the West Coast Action Alliance’s web site, check the sites of our friends across the country. And if you’re wondering why our elected officials have been so silent, read this recent post and call them out on the bargain they made at our expense.
4.)  Attend the special showing of “Sonic Sea,” an important new documentary film about reducing the impact of harmful ocean noise. Two cast members of international acclaim will be with us: Dr. Ken Balcomb III, Executive Director, Center for Whale Research, and Michael Jasny, Director, Marine Mammal Protection, Natural Resources Defense Council. May 23 from 7-9pm at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave, Port Townsend, WA. $10 donation suggested. Watch the trailer.
5.) Continue asking our government to listen to us, the voters. Our only recourse to change their ways is going to be from political, legal and public outreach in which more people realize what’s happening, and more voices are raised in many ways until the fulcrum of public opposition tips the balance back to where it belongs: on the voice of ordinary citizens.

You are an important part of the equation.

Sincerely,
The West Coast Action Alliance.

Ocean Harmed by Navy Training

Our friends from the West Coast Action Alliance sent us a very sobering collection of facts concerning the effects of increased Navy activity on the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a thorough article with many links, so it is best viewed if you go to their website and read it there: Pacific Ocean Harmed by the Navy. Their introduction is below.

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Navy Training Secretly on Washington Roads

Road in Olympic Peninsula – by Sam Beebe – edited for size

You know that electromagnetic training that people are concerned about the Navy using without permission on public Washington land?

It seems they’ve been doing it already.

Dahr Jamail at Truthout has been reporting and investigating the issue of the Navy’s overreach in land acquisition, training, and interactions with the public. In this new article, he states:

“Without public notification of any kind, the US Navy has secretly been conducting electromagnetic warfare testing and training on public roads in western Washington State for more than five years.

An email thread between the Navy and the US Forest Service between 2010 and 2012, recently obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Oregon-based author and activist Carol Van Strum in November 2014, revealed that the Navy has likely been driving mobile electromagnetic warfare emitters and conducting electromagnetic warfare training in the Olympic National Forest and on public roads on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula since 2010.”

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Navy Jets Evade NEPA

From our friends at STOP (Save The Olympic Peninsula), an update on their excellent work toward examining the Navy’s abuse of policies and laws (including NEPA) set to protect citizens and irreplaceable natural resources. The Navy thinks it can do whatever it wants to citizens and the wilderness set aside for our use without even the courtesy of following legal procedures. They must be held accountable and stopped before irreparable damage is done to the environment, wildlife, and our ability to hold the military accountable to the citizenry.

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