NAVY JET NOISE: Hammerstrom Calls in the FBI
January 23, 2014 – * Featured Story * – Tagged: FBI, jet noise, John Hammerstrom, NAS Key West – 9 comments
EDITOR’S NOTE: Last year the US Navy decided to expand its NAS Key West training program which will execute an estimated 52,000 flight operations a year out of Boca Chica Field. This makes NAS Key West one of the busiest training facilities on the east coast, but many believe it has also turned surrrounding neighborhoods into a living hell. Politicians and local activists pushed back hard but despite their efforts were unable to get the Navy to reconsider the program or to bring mitigation measures. But the residents of Stock Island and Key Haven may have found an unlikely hero: Twenty-five year Navy veteran, John Hammerstrom. Hammertrom retired as a Navy aviator with the rank of Commander and is the most lethal type of government Whistleblower: He loves the Navy. But he has come across what he believes is a pattern of repeated misrepresentations and even outright fraud in the impact assessment of the flight program. He wants it straightened out and he’s not taking no for an answer. Last Tuesday Hammerstrom took his accusations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Below is his formal complaint to the regional FBI unit in Miami.
Commander John Hammerstrom, USN (Ret)
P.O. Box 860
Tavernier, FL 33070
January 21, 2014
Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge
Federal Bureau of Investigation,
16320 NW 2nd Avenue
North Miami Beach, FL 33169
Dear Agent Steinbach,
I request a meeting with you, or one of your staff to detail the following:
In violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1001 and other laws, officials of the U.S. Navy knowingly and willfully made a materially false statement in their October 31, 2013 Record of Decision (ROD) for the Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The fraud invalidates key findings of the parent document – the FEIS itself.
The false statement is “The 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) for Fleet Support and Infrastructure Improvements at NAS Key West analyzed potential impacts to the human environment, including noise and flight paths resulting from all transient aircraft operations, including the F/A18E/F operations. As a result of that analysis, the DoN reached a Finding of No Significant Impact on April 14, 2003, which completed and satisfied the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] requirements associated with the introduction of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at NAS Key West.”
In fact, the 2003 EA pertains to modernizing “…ship and aircraft support functions and facilities at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West including Boca Chica and Truman Harbor.” The 2003 EA does not evaluate the potential “…impacts to the human environment…from all transient aircraft operations, including the F/A-18E/F operations …” as claimed.
1. The complete document history for this 2003 Environmental Assessment consists of more than 500 pages, beginning with the October 2, 2002 “brief letter,” required of Navy Commanding Officers anticipating the need for an Environmental Assessment, through the final document—the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)—signed April 14, 2003. Within the family of documents, the Super Hornet was only mentioned on three pages (less than 1% of the documentation); those three pages did not analyze “…potential impacts to the human environment, including noise and flight paths resulting from all transient aircraft operations, including the F/A18E/F operations…”; and therefore the Navy did not satisfy the NEPA requirements.
2. There is no record in the Federal Register or elsewhere, until after the signing date of the 2003 FONSI, of any connection between an evaluation of the introduction of the Super Hornet to NAS Key West and the 2003 Environmental Assessment. It was not until some time after the publication of the 2003 EA and the FONSI, that the Navy first asserted that the 2003 EA pertained to and exonerated the introduction of the Super Hornet to NAS Key West. The Navy performed a separate and unrelated (dated July, 2003) Environmental Impact Statement for the Introduction of the Super Hornet to the East Coast of the United States, but that analysis did not include NAS Key West. The Navy has refused to identify the earliest document that connects an evaluation of the Super Hornet with the 2003 EA.
3. NEPA Environmental Assessment documentation requires identification of a Proposed Action and a listing of Alternatives. There is no mention of the Super Hornet in either the Proposed Action or the Alternatives and therefore the 2003 EA did not complete and satisfy the NEPA requirements as claimed.
4. The FONSI does not mention the Super Hornet. Their claim that the FONSI “…completed and satisfied the NEPA requirements…” for analysis of “…all transient aircraft operations, including the F/A-18E/F operations…” at NAS Key West cannot be true, since it does not mention the aircraft.
5. Among ten pages of references, one lone reference in the 2003 EA pertains to aircraft. The “Wyle Laboratories Draft Noise Study for Forecast CY07 Conditions at NAS Key West.” The Adobe Reader “document properties” for the study indicates that the author of the 2003 study was Jrachami (possibly Jawad Rachami of the Wyle Acoustics Group, who, ten years later, is also the Principal-In-Charge of the January 2013 F-35 FEIS NAS Key West Noise Study, connected to the Record of Decision discussed here). The “creation date” of the study was “Apr 24, 2003,” ten days AFTER the signing of the final document. The Navy has refused to explain the anachronism.
6. Notwithstanding the Navy’s inability to locate the Draft version of the 2003 EA (released to the public and reporting agencies prior to the publication of the EA itself) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and appeal, I subsequently located a copy and copied pertinent pages. The Draft contains absolutely no mention of the Super Hornet, and the EA’s “Wyle Lab” reference is absent. Thus, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Environmental Assessment process that began on October 2, 2002 was intended to evaluate the impacts of the Super Hornet, despite the Navy’s false assertions after the fact.
All corroborating documentation can be downloaded from this link.
A complete investigation of this matter would include DODIG Cases #105900 and #113851; and GAO Control #51428, which are likely to reveal important details to FBI investigators that are not visible in the heavily redacted public reports.
John G. Hammerstrom