Letter: Wondering if the Navy has problem with credibility

Editor,

The Navy Growler EIS makes dubious assertions, as well as verbal ones, like these expressed in a recent meeting with some Admirals Cove folks:

• The Navy is going to make “every effort to … equalize [50-50] operations between Runway (Path) 14 and 32 at the OLF,”

• The “numbers proposed by the Navy are the worst-case scenario and unlikely to be met,” and

• Outside of something unexpected, “they don’t plan on any operations on weekends or holidays.”

But let’s check the Navy’s reliability record:

• In its 2005 planning document and related Environmental Assessment, the Navy proclaimed it would only fly around 6 percent of the time at night, i.e., after 10 p.m.

Here are the actual night percentages: 2007, 35 percent; 2009, 24 percent; 2010, 26 percent; 2011, 35 percent; and 2012, 64 percent.

• The AICUZ+EA also promised no more than 6,100 operations at the OLF. In 2011 and 2012, however, it was nearly 10,000 operations.

That’s when COER took them to court, and the Navy re-promised to hold it to 6,100 operations.

• In that AICUZ+EA, the Navy also promised a 50-50 split between Path 14, North Whidbey, and Path 32, Central Whidbey.

Here are the actual percentages for 14 during Prowler years: 2007, 28 percent; 2008, 0 percent; 2009, 2 percent; 2010, 30 percent; 2011, 31 percent; and 2012, 19 percent. Growler years of 2013-15 were about 5-15 percent.

Then, in federal court in 2015 the Navy admitted that Growlers could fly Runway 14 only occasionally and on special meterological conditions, like about 5 percent of the time.

But in 2017, the Navy’s draft EIS stated it changed its mind and was actually able to fly 14 about 30 percent of the time. Now they are saying they can “equalize, about 50-50, operations” between 32 and 14, meteorological conditions permitting.

Really?

OK, aside from wind direction, density-altitude is the only meteorological condition of relevance, and on any given day it is the same on both paths.

So, wind direction is “the” meteorological condition.

Prevailing winds are southerly most of the year, meaning Runway 14 is more often than not the appropriate path. Why does the EIS lock into just 30 percent for 14, instead of like 60 percent?

In its current final EIS, the Navy claims the critical threshold for “high annoyance” is a day night noise level of 65 decibels (dB), even though it is abundantly aware that the threshold is actually 55 dB because the old 65 dB threshold was proven to be erroneous by acoustic organizations and scientists from over 90 countries, including the U.S.

In 2018, World Health Organization medical experts published an extensive report based on thousands of research studies, including meta-analyses.

They found noise impinges on health and “strongly recommended” an exposure of less than 55 dB DNL (daytime) and less than 45 dB at night.

The EIS, however, claims that the link between non-auditory health and noise was too speculative to allow any consideration of impacts.

Incredibly, among the EIS authors, not one has a medical degree or even medical background.

Finally, on-site noise recordings at four locations under Runway 32, including Admirals Cove and Ebey’s Landing, and Rhododendron Park, revealed that on a day with two-day and two-night 30-minute sessions, the DNL is 87-93 dB.

This is off the annoyance and health-impact scale. Yet under the Navy’s preferred alternative plan, these and greater noise doses will occur about 150 days per year.

Does the Navy have a credibility problem?

Robert Wilbur

Coupeville

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