Whidbey Island drinking-water wells polluted with firefighting chemicals near Navy airstrips – Seattle Times

Yes, we’ve been aware that this was likely for some time and the Navy kept downplaying it. They really should call for a halt to Navy activity at the base until this is fixed.

A potentially hazardous chemical, found in firefighting foam, has been discovered in a few wells on Whidbey Island. While the Navy distributes bottled water and plans for expanded testing, homeowners worry about longlasting harm.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/whidbey-island-wells-polluted-with-firefighting-chemicals-near-navy-airstrips/

Navy Contaminates Coupeville Wells from Navy OLF Training Site

This came in this week from the folks monitoring the Navy’s OLF base.  I think that this issue should be addressed to all public officials for Whidbey Island, including  U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (2nd district),  U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Governor Jay Inslee should also be contacted with any concerns.

Those of us in the environmental community have known for years of the concerns with the foam sprayed to cool down the jets and fire fight them at crashes. Huge amounts of this foam were used in both Gulf Wars.

We have called for an end to using the base for training, based on the proximity of a large population base, which has grown tremendously since the Navy first moved onto the base in the 1940s. We have warned of numerous issues the base represents, from excessive sound that even the Navy admits causes harm to humans and wildlife, dangers of crashes in heavily populated areas and the possibility now realized of water contamination from toxic chemicals used by the Navy.


Residents Warned Against Drinking, Preparing Food with Their Water

The Navy has delivered bottled water and warnings to the first of what may be many homes with contaminated drinking water that are located in the area of the Navy’s Outlying Field (OLF) near Coupeville.

At least two property owners, some of the first who took the Navy up on its offer to have their water wells tested, were notified by phone that their water contained toxic chemicals above EPA Health Advisory Levels.

The Navy’s testing of private and public water wells followed the October 11 discovery of toxic chemicals in an OLF drinking water well that signaled contamination of the underlying aquifer. The fear that perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) found beneath the OLF had spread beyond Navy property prompted a November 7 letter to more than 100 private and public drinking water well owners in a one mile radius.

Some wells serve multiple properties.

The Town of Coupeville had its two water supply wells independently tested for three of the six chemicals that were found beneath the OLF. The Town’s well field located closest to the OLF was found contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) a level close to, but not above the EPA’s Health Advisory Level. The other two chemicals, PFOS and PFBS, were not detected at the levels they were tested for.

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) has been linked to kidney and testicular cancers, birth defects, damage to the immune system, heart and thyroid disease, and complications during pregnancy. EPA’s Science Advisory Board labeled it a likely human carcinogen. Although the Navy describes the amounts found as “trace”, PFOA is hazardous in tiny doses because it accumulates in the body and takes years to excrete.

Last week, one of what may end up being many families was told by the Navy that PFOA was found in their drinking water at more than six times the EPA’s Health Advisory Level.

A neighbor’s well was also found to be contaminated and the family warned against using their water for drinking or cooking. With the Navy’s phone call came the realization that family members had been drinking a likely human carcinogen known to accumulate in the body, and have been doing so for an unknown period of time.

The Navy isn’t saying how many of the privately owned wells have shown contamination thus far. However, the distance from the OLF to the private wells showing contamination, suggests that closer wells may also be contaminated.

The Navy notifies well owners by phone and then delivers bottled water to their homes if the levels of contamination are above the EPA’s Health Advisory Levels. The Navy says it will do nothing if contaminates are found below those levels. Well owners whose water has been tested by the Navy have yet to received complete copies of the laboratory reports.

“The Navy’s approach to this pollution problem is no different than that of any big industrial polluter seeking to avoid criticism, reduce liability, and continue business-as-usual,” said Rick Abraham, an environmental consultant working with Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve (COER). “They downplay the seriousness of the problem, drag out investigations, and keep the public in the dark,” he said.

Abraham was previously involved in PFOA investigations on behalf of industrial workers and communities in at least five states.

The Navy’s Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) containing PFOA and/or PFOS is the suspected source of the contamination. The United States, Canada, European Union, Australia, and Japan have banned new production of this fire fighting foam. However, the Navy has stockpiled large amounts for use in fighting fires until it finds a satisfactory substitute. The fire trucks sitting at the OLF and main base in Oak Harbor still have PFOA and PFOS containing AFFF.

The Navy has refused to identify the AFFF brands or formulations to be used in event of an accident, and will only say that they don’t contain “as much” of the dangerous chemicals as they once did.

According to the Navy, historical crash sites and fire training areas are the most likely sources of PFAS contamination at its installations. However, the Navy has yet to investigate the site of a 1982 crash site at the OLF. It claims to be unsure of the crash location and that investigating the site is not a priority.

COER is aware of at least one resident who witnessed the crash and the firefighting trucks at the scene of the still burning jet. The site was not considered in the Navy’s investigation plans.

The Navy claims to have no record of AFFF being used at the OLF, even though a resident recalls seeing the spreading foam on the OLF runway and the washing of fire trucks at OLF after fire fighting training. The Navy has held two large public informational meetings but has made no effort to seek such information from area residents.

The Navy has also kept its plans for investigating contamination at the OLF from the public. The Navy’s “draft” Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) was provided to the EPA and Island County Public Health. All have refused to make the plan public, claiming that “draft” status of plan exempts it from open records laws.

“The people most at risk have been kept in the dark and denied meaningful input,” said Abraham. “The Navy’s failure to consider the potential sources of the contamination raises questions about the adequacy of the investigation,” he added.

“The last thing the Navy wants to do is draw attention to an accident that highlights the risks posed by thousands of touch-and-go ‘Growler’ jet training operations at the OLF,” said Maryon Atwood, a COER board member whose home is near the OLF.

The Navy just released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement wherein it seeks to increase touch-and-go operations Growler jet operations at the OLF up to 35,000 a year, almost a six-fold increase over current levels. “Increasing operations will increase the risk of accidents and the threat to our drinking water,” said Atwood. “This is in addition to increasing noise levels that already exceed community guidelines established by the EPA, OSHA, the State of Washington and the World Health Organization,” she added.

If private and public wells are shown to contain PFOA or PFOS above the EPA’s Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion, either individually or combined, the Navy says it will provide alternative water. According to a number of health experts, the levels deemed to be acceptable by the EPA are set far too high and not adequately protective.

Navy and Air Force sites around the country have been identified as sources of PFAS contamination with the cost of remediation and providing alternate water running into the tens of millions of dollars.

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http://citizensofebeysreserve.com
CitizensoftheEbeysReserve2@gmail.com, P.O. Box 202, Coupeville, WA 9823

Navy holds Public Meeting for “noisy” Draft EIS. Public holds silent protest

The U.S. Navy began the first of five public meetings at Port Townsend today, in order to roll out their new “draft” Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to expand the use of the Whidbey Island Airbase. The airbase is primarily used for carrier and expeditionary (land based wings) training of cadets. A group of approximately 40 protesters sat in a silent protest during the event. While police looked on, no arrests were made nor was their anything other than a peaceful sit down protest.

navy-eis-1-2navy-eis-1navy-eis-1-3

The Navy is no longer asking for any lowering of cadet training, and in fact is looking to expand by 35 or 36 aircraft. Personnel increases range in the proposals from 371 to 664, with an expected expansion of dependents (family) of 509 to 710). They are planning to increase operations/year from 88,000 to 130,000 an increase of 33%. One thing to understand that was explained to me by Ted Brown, the Installations and Public Affairs Officer for the Navy, is that these operations actually need to be divided by 2 to more clearly understand them. A jet taking over and do a touch and go is engaging in a minimum of 2 operations. However, this increase in the levels takes us from a low range where we have been since approx 1996 to a much higher level, more closely aligned to the levels leading up to the first Gulf War (1976-1988).

The more problematic issue of all this is that the Navy will be impacting many more people with noise levels at or above 65dB. To put this in perspective, 65dB is considered “normal” level of talking to someone at 3′. However, we are talking about jet aircraft noise and not human voices. Hearing loss can occur at sustained levels above 85dB. A navy aircraft sound print lasts approx. 30 seconds usually peaking at 93.5 dBs and sustained above 80 for most of that 30 seconds.  In the summer, I routinely am roused out of sleep after 12 midnight by jets taking off and landing 16. 2 nautical miles away from my house. That qualifies for what the navy calls sleep disturbance but it does not track that from my distance, so any of us affected by this are not included in their calculations.

The Navy assumes that in our area of Port Townsend, we can expect noise levels capable of affecting speech comprehension inside an additional 4 times an hour. Outdoor events would increase up to an additional 3 events per hour. 

Events  that the Navy expects to be so loud as to disturb indoor classroom activity is expect to increase by 2 events per hour. 

Sleep disturbance events between 10PM and 7AM are expected to increase up to 48% in some locations.

It is also worth noting that the Navy primarily flies these during times when the aircraft carriers are in port. They have a window of opportunity and the pilots also need to achieve night flight status. This means that with darkness falling later and later, they end up spilling into the later evening. So expect more noise late in the summer, and with more planes, it will only get worse.

There is a hope on the horizon, much longer out, in that the touch and goes are now in the early phases of having a onboard computer fly the plane with greatly increased safety, and less wear and tear on the plane and flight deck. At some point, we may see a dramatic decrease in touch and goes, as computers take over that function, decreasing training on it. Newer F-35s have the ability installed but older ones do not. The software is not yet operational though, being in testing now.

What can be done about the intrusion into our peaceful surroundings? There is a no action alternativethat the Navy isn’t seriously considering, but should be proposed in writing by anyone concerned about this growth. However, don’t expect the Navy to choose this. If you are planning to contact any of our Congressmen or Senators, you might as well push for it. That’s the only way you will protect yourself and your family from increased unmuffled jet noise.

 

 

 

 

Navy to expand sonar, other training off Northwest coast – AP

Despite our best efforts…the military continues to turn our area into a training ground. Expanded sonar testing. Expanded jet flights. Increasing base forces. They get the National Marine Fisheries Service to buy into their assumptions on ‘no net loss’. They expand an antiquated air field  that should be shut down and moved to a more remote area. They conduct sonar tests in the same waters as our last remaining Orcas. Folks, they will never really work to protect our environment. Now we get a Federal Government that will give them carte blanche to continue to expand. And where is Representative Derek Kilmer, Senator Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in all this? Silent.

The U.S. Navy has finalized a plan to expand sonar testing and other warfare training off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The Navy decided to implement its preferred plan after a lengthy review that included a determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service that the exercises would not have major impacts on endangered orcas and other marine mammals. It announced its decision on Nov. 4. The fisheries service last year renewed the Navy’s five-year permit, through 2020, to conduct the activities in areas from the inland waters of Puget Sound in Washington state to the northern coast of California. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.thenewstribune.com/latest-news/article114532458.html

Navy, Noise and Sealife – News & Event

From the people at The West Coast Action Alliance and the Olympic Forest Coalition
http://westcoastactionalliance.org and http://olympicforest.org

Noise in the sea is killing and injuring wildlife. The numbers are shocking. The online news organization Truthout published their top story this morning, on the excessively high numbers of marine mammals the US Navy is allowed to “take” as a result of exploding mines and bombs and using sonar in sensitive habitats during testing and training exercises. Truthout senior investigative reporter Dahr Jamail researched and wrote it after noticing this post from the West Coast Action Alliance:

Coincidentally, the New York Times wrote last week that Navy sonar “cannot be ruled out as cause of death” for dolphins in Southern California.

Which brings us to this: 23 organizations are sponsoring a showing of the movie “Sonic Sea” on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 PM at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (QUUF) in Port Townsend, Washington, 2333 San Juan Avenue. The eye-opening film reveals how noise from Navy sonar, drilling operations and everyday vessel traffic adversely impacts whales and other sea life. (Watch trailer here.)  A donation of $10 is suggested at the door.

Two world renowned experts and cast members will be at the screening – Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research and Michael Jasny of the National Resources Defense Council. They will speak and, after the film, lead a Q&A session. (Press release here.)  If you are not in the area, check this site for more screenings, or to host one in your area. To learn more, download theOcean Noise Report.

On all fronts: Army and Navy forge ahead with training plans for Northwest forests despite loud opposition – Tacoma News Tribune

Finally, a major news outlet on the “east” side of the Sound discusses, in depth, what has been happening out here over the last year. Our friends in the environmental movement in Seattle have rebuked all efforts to get them involved in any way, stating that the coal and Bakka Crude train issue is all they can handle. Luckily, there are a number of dedicated people, like Karen Sullivan quoted in the article, that have worked to keep this a front burner issue.

To be clear, jet training noise in Port Townsend, which is 16 nautical miles from the airbase, is loud enough at midnight to wake people up inside houses with windows closed. That would be the equivalent of Green Lake hearing the jets from Sea Tac at midnight. The Seattle-ites that love to come over here and use the Olympic National Forest might want to help before the expected peace and quite of the wilderness is overrun by troop training exercises. It will be too late then, folks. They are asking for over 260 days a year to use these locales, and never admit that or state it in public meetings. Just read the documents to find the truth of their demands.

Special Operations units and an Air Force survival school already use Northwest forests New plans might lead to more noticeable training on Olympic Peninsula, North Cascades. Environmental reviews draw thousands of letters from opponents


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/military/article59954826.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/military/article59954826.html

Navy appears to be using active sonar near Orcas – Beamreach

Beamreach has published sound patterns from the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network that appears to show active sonar blasts that could seriously impact Orcas and other marine mammals. The Navy has stated that it would avoid this kind of behavior, and we are awaiting word from them that they either mistakenly did this, or will stop it. To be clear, the intensity of these pings have scientists worried about injury to the whales.

With transient killer whales in the area and the whereabouts of J and L pods (and their many newborns!) unknown, we were concerned to hear that active sonar was utilized late in the morning on Wednesday, January 13, in Haro Strait — critical habitat for species in both Canada and the U.S.  At the same time, military training activities were planned or taking place on both sides of the border.  This is what is sounded like — – See more at: http://www.beamreach.org/2016/01/14/navy-starts-2016-pinging-in-the-pool#sthash.tUSgcTV7.dpuf

http://www.beamreach.org/2016/01/14/navy-starts-2016-pinging-in-the-pool

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