Letter: Noise problems extend beyond Whidbey Island

Editor,

With sadness I read the Sound Off by Christine Cribb, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

Her letter forgets — again — that regional taxpayers from the Olympic Peninsula to the North Cascades are trying to live peaceful lives in a Navy war training zone.

In the 25 years I was involved in Navy noise issues, the regional groups asked and pleaded for noise mitigation — the kind found at airports worldwide — baffles, hush houses and adjustments of flight patterns and training hours. Alternative training areas exist in California and Nevada.

Real-time measurements of the noise that shakes our homes and bodies are needed to define the problem. We have asked repeatedly for the Navy to measure and mitigate the jarring, crushing blasts of low-frequency Growler noise that rattle our days and nights often until midnight .

We have asked for mitigation, not for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to be closed. We respect the Navy pilots, some of the finest in the world.

We do not respect the Navy’s disregard of the National Environmental Protection Act, which protects us all. It’s this disregard of the NEPA process and requirements that the state attorney general is addressing.

Regional concerns go way beyond property values. The Salish Sea and marine life, including orcas, are being impacted by Navy explosives, impulsive sound, sonar, high energy lasers, biodegradable polymers, unmanned underwater systems, post explosive fragments and more.

Our regional air is polluted with cancer-producing Growler exhaust, fuel dumping and 1,200 metric tons of CO2 for every hour of Growler flight. Whidbey Island’s water table is polluted by Navy perfluoroalkyl.

And then there’s the health effects on the human residents trying to cope with the noise and pollution.

We’ve all seen those grim lists.

It’s time for the Navy to stop being the bully in the room. For me the “sound of freedom” would be the Navy and regional communities working and talking together respectfully, following the NEPA laws and regulations and returning balance, sanity, a healthy land, sea, sky and soundscape to this place we call home.

Cynthia Dilling

Member, Quiet Skies Over San Juan County

Lopez Island

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