Monday, April 13, 2009

Oregon Senators Concerned About Navy Training Proposal

Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are concerned about the environmental impact of naval training off the Oregon coast. The navy wants to beef up their training exercises; this covers the waters off Washington state's coast but Oregon as well.

Included in the plans are: minefield testing, drills on land and air, sonar training. The Navy, after hearing concerns from the public, allowed more time for input. Among the concerns from the senators and the public was the effects this training would have on whales and other marine life. Sheila Murray, the environmental affairs spokesperson for the Navy, assured the public that any adverse effects would be "small."

In an act of disingenousness, Murray implied that the senators had no cause for concern, since:
"There's concern about explosive ordance device ranges, but those ranges are in the Puget Sound, so I'm not rally sure how that affects Oregon. The underwater minefield testing is a dummy minefield. Really, the impact to Oregon is going to be minimal."

Senators Wyden and Merkley disagree with the idea there'll be "minimal" impact. Listing mainly four areas, the senators said they were worried about the damaging effects on fisheries, the effects of sonar on whales and other sea life and endangered animals, and "the release of hazardous materials into sensitive marine ecosystems."

The senators want the Navy to study the issue more deeply and explain in greater detail to the public the effects on the environment their testing will have.

Spokesperson Murray remains insistent that "the Navy does very little off of Oregon other than transit through there..." and regarding the effects of sonar "The Navy has 29 protective measures in place in order to avoid any effects on marine animals."

So let's see them.

Soure: Eugene Register Guard, Monday, April 13, 2009, City/Region section

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