First, there was the noise.
Deafening, ongoing noise over 80 dB that rattled windows, caused hearing loss, prevented sleep late at night, spiked blood pressure, and drove away tourists.
Then the businesses had to close near the OLF. Farmers have to consider every year how they can get workers safely into the fields – and if they should. Homeowners, unaware of how bad it was going to get over time, were stuck with unsalable property.
Then the water contamination was revealed, caused by the firefighting foam and cleaning solvents used by the Navy. Homeowners not only could not sell their homes, but could not safely live there. Polluted water was served at the Coupeville hospital for who knows how long. Residents fear the chemical plume spreading through the one water source on Central Whidbey Island.
And then… the Navy drafted its plans to increase operations in the infamous DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement). The proposed increases of three different options are listed below (no option was given to reduce operations.)
The Navy’s Scenario A (which is the one the Navy indicates is its preference) increases flight operations from a current average of 6,100 to 35,100 per year. This is an average of 135 operations per day, every day, except weekends.
Weekends are normally exempt due to a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ but poor weather for training often pushes training times into shorter, denser schedules – it is highly unlikely that weekends would remain untouched, which would be catastrophic to Whidbey Island’s remaining tourist and farming activities.
What do we want?
- We want the Navy to move Growler FCLP training flights off Whidbey Island to alternative, more remote, locations, where their noise will not be an issue.
- We would tolerate no more than 5,000 FCLP operations at Ault field, if in exchange, all other FCLP training operations are moved off Whidbey Island.
- We want OLF retired because it is too short, outdated, lacks modern safety equipment, has large fir trees that surround the field, impacts businesses and homes, and is right over Central Whidbey’s drinking water supply. Our water is already contaminated by the Navy – no new contamination can be sustained by a possible statistical crash that is likely to occur in the next 10 years.
- We want to stop foreign military Growler FCLP training operations from being conducted over Whidbey Island.
- We want the Navy to change their One Site Policy, so Growler squadrons could be placed at other Naval Air Stations or at Marine bases, as needed.
- We want fairness – Puget Sound and Whidbey Island should NOT have to bear the sole collateral damage for training our Naval military personnel.
- We want input – The Navy never discussed their plans for expansion in Puget Sound or on Whidbey Island with those who would be impacted. Naval poster sessions, staffed by personnel from other parts of the country who were required to listen, was not about dialogue or meaningful input – and was deeply upsetting to people who attended.