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News :: Environment : Politics
US Navy plans use of LFAS in Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Mediterranean Oceans without proper EIS
17 Dec 2005
Honolulu (Dec 2005). The US Navy is in the final stages of submitting public comments to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pertaining to the use of Low Frequency Sonar in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. The well documented negative affects of this technology has been demonstrated in the past in whale and dolphin beachings around the world, with some washing up with visible damage to their ears (bleeding), disorientation, often leading to death. Humans within the vicinity of this technology have experienced well documented negative physical, psychological and mental problems.

The King of Hawai'i has issued a summary of the "so called" public meeting held in Honolulu recently, where some members of the community were allowed to testify. The meeting was held in the back room of a poorly lit hallway, through a maze of corridors on the University of Hawai'i campus, where attendees had to pay $3.00 for parking. The only visible sign that was posted directing people to the meeting was an 8 X 10 inch, handwritten poster that was tacked up hastily in two darkened hallways, with one indicating that persons should head down the hallway in BOTH directions in order to access the meeting room. Further, environmental groups, and other entities that are not only actively suing the US Navy to stop using this technology, but others who have a clear interest in attending this meeting were not notified of the meeting in advance so they could appear to testify. As a result, many who did hear about the meeting were informed via word of mouth the day before the meeting took place. Additionally, the US Navy has already conducted testing of this technology in the Hawaiian waters without public knowledge, and without an EIS in place during the humpback whale mating season.

The King of Hawai'i issued a statement prohibiting the use of this technology within 200 miles of the coast of the Hawaiian Island chain, in part due to the sacred ancestral connection that Hawaiians have with not only land entities, but their ocean counterparts as well. Many Hawaiian families think of whales, dolphins,sharks, turtles, and other fish as a part of the ancient Hawaiian cosmology and geneology that connects them to their ancient past. About twenty members of the public attended the meeting, with eight members of the audience in attendance on the US Navy's behalf. There was at least one person in this Naval group who spent the entire meeting glaring threateningly at whomever testified (and others in the audience) who clearly expressed views not in line with what the US Navy was trying to accomplish. We were told that this person was there to provide security. Interested members of the Public should send their written comments to the address listed below by December 27, 2005.
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Low Frequency Active Sonar
United States Navy Hearing
Monday, December 5, 2005
Honolulu, Hawai`i

Background

In the mid-1980’s, the United States Navy concern about new, more silent submarines, led to a decision to develop low frequency sonar. Low frequency sound travels vast distances in the water. The new sonar would detect the new submarines at a sufficient distance to permit the Navy to respond before a possibly hostile submarine got close enough to do harm.

The Navy proceeded to research, design, manufacture, and test low frequency active sonar (LFAS) over a period of years without taking the steps necessary to comply with environmental law.

While aware of the Navy program, the National Marine Fisheries Service took no steps to compel the Navy to comply with those laws.

In 1995, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) discovered the program and sent a letter to the Navy detailing the laws being violated and essentially threatening to sue, if the Navy did not come into compliance with those laws.

In 1996, the Navy announced its decision to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act, seek permits to take marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the potential impact of the sonar on endangered and threatened species.

By that time, the Navy had spent more than $100 million preparing to deploy the system throughout the oceans of the world.

As part of the EIS process, the Navy conducted tests of the system on various species of cetaceans in various ocean locations.

During the EIS process, numerous groups and individuals filed lawsuits challenging the sonar program. Groups in Hawai`i filed many of those suits.

After the Navy issued its final EIS and secured the permits necessary to deploy the sonar, NRDC filed suit challenging the adequacy of the environmental work and the legality of the permits.

The court issued an injunction limiting the use of the sonar to testing and training exercises in a few ocean locations.

In response to the injunction, the Navy prepared a draft supplemental EIS (DSEIS) for public comment and scheduled three public hearings in Washington, D.C.; San Diego, California; and Honolulu, Hawai`i to take comments on the draft document.

The Navy sent copies of the DSEIS to government agencies and interested private organization. The Navy did not send the document to any of the organizations in Hawai`i that had filed suit nor to their attorneys. The Navy did not notify any of the Hawaiian organizations about the public hearing.

Prior to the public hearing in Honolulu, the only notice of the Navy hearing appeared in classified advertisement in the legal notice section of local newspapers.

On Monday, December 5, 2005, the Navy held a public hearing at the University of Hawai`i Manoa Campus Center. This report summarizes that hearing.

The Hearing

People in Hawai`i active on the sonar issue did learn about the document and hearing, despite the efforts of the Navy to limit public awareness. A last minute email and telephone effort brought approximately twenty people to the hearing.

The Navy had eight people present, including Mr. Joe Johnson, who coordinates the EIS effort for the Navy.

Mr. Johnson opened the hearing with a Navy presentation on the history of LFAS. The public comment period followed.

Years earlier hearing in Honolulu, local groups mobilized a large showing of people and presented a coordinated presentation of statements prepared prior to the hearing and read by volunteers who came to the hearing and signed up to speak in the order intended for the presentation.

At the 2005 hearing, Lanny Sinkin, an attorney who had filed fives of the suits in Hawai`i challenging various aspects of the LFAS program, prepared a similar presentation in the short period available after Hawaiians learned of the DSEIS and the hearing.

At the beginning of the public comment period in Honolulu, Mr. Johnson announced that he would randomly select cards from those prepared by those who wished to speak.

The first card he pulled was Melia Farias. As it turned out, Ms. Farias came to the hearing to provide an introduction for Mr. Sinkin.

While Mr. Sinkin is an attorney within the United States, he is also involved in a rapidly growing effort to restore the Kingdom of Hawai`i as an independent nation. In 1893, agents of the United States government overthrew the Kingdom government. In 1993, the United States Congress passed and President Clinton signed a resolution apologizing for the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom government and acknowledged that Hawaiian never relinquished their sovereignty. Mr. Sinkin serves as Ali`i Mana`o Nui (Chief Advocate and Spiritual Advisor) to Ali`i Nui Mo`i (King) Edmund Keli`i Silva Junior.

While coordinating presentations on the LFAS matter for the hearing, Mr. Sinkin came to the hearing to deliver a statement from the King. He initially intended to deliver that statement after United States citizens had an opportunity to address their own government. The random process chosen by the Navy put the statement from the King as the opening statement of the hearing.

Ms. Farias opened the public comment period with a chant in Hawaiian and then translated the chant.

From the sacred places of Hawai`i
Comes the voice of the King
Uncover the ipu, uncover the truth
Here is the great remembrance of the King of Hawai`i
From the East, the West, the before, the after, the mountains, the sea
The mana of all Hawai`i rises up!

(ipu = bottle gourd; mana = spiritual energy)

After Ms. Farias chant, Mr. Sinkin delivered a statement on behalf of the King expressing “the King’s displeasure with the intent of the United States Navy to deploy low frequency active sonar in Kingdom waters.” The statement reminded those present of the overthrow and continued illegal occupation.

Regarding deployment of LFAS, the statement noted that the Kingdom was always and will continue to be a non-aligned nation having no quarrel with any other nation and intending to avoid being drawn into disputes within the human family. To the contrary, the Kingdom intends to offer its services in resolving such disputes.

As a non-aligned nation, the Kingdom does not need the protection of any nation and, therefore, there is no need for the deployment of LFAS in Kingdom waters.

Because the King is also responsible for protecting the ocean that sustains the people of Hawai`i, he cannot allow the introduction of harmful technology into the ocean waters.

The statement also noted that in the ancient Hawaiian spiritual tradition, the whale, shark, turtle, and other sea life are amakua, ancestors of the human species, who are “not to be subject to harassment and torment by human technology.”

The statement concluded that, when the government is restored, the King will issue a proclamation banning the use of all military sonars, whether low, mid, or high frequency, in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

The statement from the King set the energy and tone for many other presentations. Eleven speakers made statements with additional statements submitted in writing. Hawai`i Green Party, Life of the Land, American Friends Service Committee, and other groups and individuals delivered impassioned and detailed comments. The major themes were:

The failure of the Navy to give notice to people known to be interested in the LFAS matter regarding the issuance of the DSEIS and the public hearing violated the guidelines for distribution of such documents and demonstrated a lack of commitment to the democratic process on the part of the Navy.

Hawai`i and Hawaiians suffer from the terrible adverse impacts of the continued illegal occupation of the islands by the United States. Many of those adverse impacts stem from the extensive militarization of Hawai`i and from military activities, such as bombing Hawaiian lands. The restored Kingdom intends to phase out the United States military presence; protect what is left of the Kingdom’s natural resources; and pursue action against those who persist in harming the people, land, waters, and air of the Kingdom.

The dishonesty of the entire EIS process is apparent from the failure to pursue information developed during the process that indicated serious potential adverse impacts, such as the physiological and psychological injuries to a human exposed to a broadcast in the waters off Hawai`i during testing, the Navy’s’ cavalier dismissal as “anecdotal” the extensive observations documenting Humpback Whales fleeing the Hawaiian test area, and the failure to follow up on testimony documenting a dramatic drop in the birth rate of dolphin pods exposed to LFAS broadcasts.

The roots of the dishonest EIS process are the $100 million the Navy spent prior to initiating their environmental assessment and the Office of Naval Research monopoly on funding acoustic research. The former created a momentum for deployment that could hardly be stopped by environmental concerns that the Navy considers of secondary importance. The latter impedes the objectivity of scientists hired to determine the environmental impacts. With the client, who pays the bills, requesting a study on a matter where the decision is already made, the contractor is unlikely to pursue information indicating the client made the wrong decision.

The Navy’s attempted to cover up the evidence and mislead the public. Particularly noted was the opinion editorial Joe Johnson placed in the Honolulu Advertiser on May 11, 2001 containing numerous false and misleading statements regarding the deaths of whales during use of low frequency active sonar and what happened during the 1998 testing off Hawai`i.

The Navy limits its environmental responsibility by making prevention of sea life exposure to levels of 180 decibels or and human exposure to 145 decibels or above the only limitation on deployment. The 180 and 145 levels are the Navy’s defined level where physical injury takes place. This limitation means that effects on biological significant behaviors, such as breeding, feeding, migrating, etc. will be permitted without any real mitigation and without any real ability to know what long term consequences will be.

At the end of the public comments, Mr. Johnson took one or two questions, which he insisted be off the record.

Generally, those present to challenge the continued pursuit of LFAS deployment were pleased at the turn out on such short notice and at the quality and quantity of the challenges presented. They also agreed that the Navy is simply going through the motions with every intent of fully deploying LFAS systems throughout the world, regardless of environmental impact or public opinion.


Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Public Relations
Kingdom of Hawai’i


For more information, please click on the following links:

Study links bends-like whale deaths to sonar http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Oct/09/ln/ln07a.html

Sonar possibly drove 200 whales near Kaua'i beach http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Jul/11/ln/ln17a.html

Navy changes claim on sonar use http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Sep/01/ln/ln02a.html

Group charges military sonar threatens whales http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Oct/19/br/br07p.html

Further restrictions sought on use of Navy sonar http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Oct/20/ln/FP510200343.htm

Protecting Whales from Dangerous Sonar http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonar.asp

An electronic copy of the Draft SEIS is also available for public viewing and download at: http://www.surtass-lfa-eis.com/

Interested persons can submit their opinions on this issue to the Navy’s EIS team through their website until December 27, 2005 at: http://www.surtass-lfa-eis.com/ .

Single copies of the Draft SEIS and Executive Summary are available upon request by contacting: SURTASS LFA Sonar EIS Program Manager, 4100 Fairfax Drive, Ste 730, Arlington, VA 22203; or E-Mail: eisteam (at) mindspring.com.

This work is in the public domain
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