Navy to hold hearing on offshore tests

Written by Adam Spencer, The Triplicate March 03, 2014 05:49 pm

The U.S. Navy will hold a public hearing next week on the possible environmental impacts  of continued training and testing, including weapons and sonar testing, from 2015 to 2020 on the Pacific Coast from Humboldt County to Washington state.

An opportunity to hear details about the environmental analysis of the Northwest Training and Testing plan from the Navy and give official public comment will be offered at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Red Lion Hotel, 1929 Fourth St., Eureka.

The Environmental Impact Statement is required for the Navy to receive permits to continue testing that includes 30 bomb testings and 100 mid-range sonar tests, which have been shown to affect marine mammals.

The testing is expected to result in the possible killing or harassment of some marine mammals as the Navy has sent a request to National Marine Fisheries Service for the incidental take of 29 species of marine mammals.

Most of the 316 public comments on the project received during an earlier scoping period have focused on impacts to marine mammals.

“The Navy carries out training and testing activities to be able to protect the United States from its enemies, as well as to protect and defend the rights of the United States and its allies to move freely on the oceans,” according to the draft EIS.

In 2004, the sonars used during war games conducted near Hawaii by the U.S. and other Pacific Rim nations resulted in 150 to 200 melon-headed whales —  usually found in open water — stranding themselves in a shallow bay. 

During Thursday’s meeting, the public will have the opportunity to speak with Navy representatives and hear an overview of the draft analysis and findings.

The EIS is open for public comment until March 25.

Comments will be taken at Thursday’s meeting. Information on how to comment otherwise can be found online atnwtteis.com/GetInvolved.aspx.

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