Major Issues

Issue Categories, in this order:  Noise, the Flawed Public Process, Wildlife and Habitat, Jet Emissions, Electromagnetic Radiation, Other issues such as Fire Danger, and Ocean Issues. Categories for the latter include Sonar, Ship Strikes and Marine Pollution.

Behavioral changes in marine mammals are predicted to occur on a massive scale (27 million examples of the latter predicted for a five-year period.) Pollution via jet fuel dumping, toxic chemicals and partially used flammable materials washing up on beaches are also a problem.


1. Noise

“The noise goes right to your bones.” Video of citizens pleading with utterly impassive Island County Commissioners for support on remedying serious public health impacts from jet noise. Significance: This is utterly compelling, eye-opening testimony, but these people, including former military personnel and their families, are being ignored by elected officials and threatened by Navy supporters. We recommend watching the entire video, called “Citizens Give County Commissioners an Earful.”

How Ocean Noise Pollution Wreaks Havoc on Marine Life,” Yale Environment 360, March 31, 2016. “Imagine filling a whole ocean with unbearable noise. Imagine that every 10 seconds there is an explosion that is rattling grandma’s china out of the cupboard, and it is falling on the floor.”

How the Navy measures jet noise (PDF)

The public is very concerned about jet noise over our communities. A good indication of how responsibly our concerns may be taken can be glimpsed by examining how well the Navy takes care of its own personnel. This is a quote from page 5 of a noise audit report by the Navy:  “According to PMA265 representatives, the F/A-18E/F aircraft emits, and the EA-18G will emit, a maximum of 150 dBs [decibels], which is well above the noise level considered hazardous to hearing (greater than 84 dBs). According to PMA265, they made no initial attempts to mitigate the flight-line/deck jet noise hazard through design selection. This is contrary to the system safety design order of precedence specified in the MIL-STD-882D. Test results indicate that new technology hearing protection devices will reduce noise exposure on the flight deck by at least 43 dBs; however, this is still above the level considered hazardous to hearing. A professional audiologist further validated that a hazard will continue to exist even with the improved hearing protection. We also found that PMA265:  Appropriately maintained a Risk Assessment Code (RAC) of “Serious-Undesirable” associated with the flight-line/deck jet noise hazard; however, they established risk levels (Risk Assessment Matrix) and risk acceptance authority levels that did not comply with required guidance; and:  Did not maintain a current log of mitigation efforts associated with the flight-line/deck jet noise hazard.”

Navy personnel wear foam earplugs and insulated headsets that currently give them protection to between 30 and 40 dBs. A typical carrier flight day will see 60 takeoffs and landings, with exposure to 150 dBs for two minutes on each; a single takeoff is considered to be a full day’s allotment of noise exposure.

Noise-induced hearing loss statistics (Word file)   PDF version

EPA Noise Pollution web page:

National Park Service Maps Noise Pollution While Studying Effects On Visitors, Wildlife More on how the National Park Service measures sound.

This is a quote from the executive summary of a Navy report on jet noise:  “Although the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is spending over $1 billion per year for hearing loss cases, there are no data to correlate hearing loss claims to flight deck noise exposure. Approximately 28% of the VA hearing loss claims are for the Department of the Navy, but data do not exist on the environment that caused the hearing loss.”

If the Navy is not documenting or taking care of its own personnel with regard to hearing loss, how can civilians realistically expect that it will care about the noise made over our communities? Despite assurances to the contrary, which included a statement promising noise exposure reductions of up to 38% in this 2005 Environmental Assessment (page 33), the number of flight operations at the OLF (Outlying Field Coupeville) alone increased 368% from 2008 – 2014. With the addition of 54 attack helicopters and six relocated PA-8A squadrons also training at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, it is going to become a lot noisier as the Navy, in creating a Mega-Base, also attempts to transform the Olympic Peninsula into an Electronic Warfare Range. 

JGL Noise Report (PDF), commissioned by Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve (COER).

Community Aircraft Noise – A Public Health Issue (PDF) (COER Report)

Effects of Airplane Noise on Communities (Video – Experts in the field give presentations and answer the questions of the community, and strategies for dealing with the situation are discussed.)

“It was estimated that percent change in property value per one decibel increase in noise level for detached houses, condominiums and vacant land is 0.65 percent, 0.90 percent, and 0.16 percent respectively.”  ~Aircraft Noise and its Cost to Society (2006)

“Studies have shown that aircraft noise does decrease the value of residential property located around airports. Although there are many socio-economical factors which must be considered because they may negatively affect property values themselves, all research conducted in this area found negative effects from aviation noise, with effects ranging from a 0.6 to 2.3 percent decrease in property value per decibel increase of cumulative noise exposure.” ~ Aviation Noise Effects Report, FAA, 1985.

“Estimates by Realtors of reductions in the values of single family dwellings ranging from 3.9% (low estimate) to 7.7% (high estimate) for moderate noise levels (65-70 Ldn) , from 9.6% to 13.0% for substantial noise levels (70-75 Ldn), and from 11.2% to 21.6% for severe noise levels (75-80 Ldn).”  ~Effects of Noise and Airport Activity on Residential Property Values: A Survey Study (1988)

Scientific studies from the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania Airspace Redesign

Noise, Sovereignty and Civility: Who Owns the Air? How Should We Treat Our Neighbors? (Essay from Noise Pollution Clearinghouse)

Law Library for proposed noise legislation and existing noise laws from federal, state, and municipal sources. (Noise Pollution Clearinghouse)

The tourism industry is the third largest retail industry in the United States, behind only automotive dealers and food stores. The Olympic National Park attracts more than 3 million visitors per year, who contribute $250 million to the local economy. The area over which the Navy will be flying and around which it will be operating its sea-based warfare training activities contributes a total of nearly one billion dollars per year to Washington’s economy, and that’s just expenditures on public lands. Wildlife viewing, photographing and watching is the top expenditure category. A clean and quiet environment is directly linked to this economic engine.


2. The Flawed Public Process

A Comparison of Spoken and Written Remarks by the Navy and Forest Service. Related: video of Navy saying they can train elsewhere and that terrain doesn’t matter. Also: video of navy saying they will train elsewhere if permits are not granted.

Swanson, Nancy. “U.S. Navy plan for electronic warfare on Olympic Peninsula elicits public outcry,” The Examiner, October 25, 2014.

For context on how Navy views marine mammals:  “Naval Air Station Whidbey Island WA is impacted by laws and regulations pertaining to Marine mammal Protection Act, Essential Fish Habitats & Fisheries and Marine Sanctuaries, which may adversely restrict navigation and operations.”  More in this “Justification Book.”

A List of Things That Have Not Been Considered (Word file)   PDF version

A few observations by alert citizens (PDF)

Did the Forest Service give the Navy a Categorical Exclusion? (Word file)    PDF version

Information Gaps and Omissions in Official Documents (Word file)    PDF version

Open Meetings Rules Were Violated (Word file)    PDF version

The Navy has Not Substantiated its Need for National Forest Lands (Word file)    PDF version

When Will the Forest Service Do its Own Research? (Word file)    PDF version

Comments at Public Meetings Were Not Recorded, Therefore, Commenters Have No Legal Standing (Word file)       PDF version

Public Interest is Paramount, but it is being Overridden by the Navy (Word file)     PDF version

SIX Public Processes in ONE Year for ONE Pacific Northwest issue!

The US Army is Proposing Helicopter Training Over Much of the North Cascades and in the  Methow Valley.

Wartime journalists will be censored, uncooperative ones will be legally classified as “unprivileged belligerents” and treated like spies, and a retired Army General advocates for putting “disloyal Americans” in internment camps. See this opinion piece on the military’s latest interpretation of the law of war, from the New York Times: “The Pentagon’s Dangerous Views on the Wartime Press,”

2011 – Congressional Research Service: Wilderness Laws: Statutory Provisions and Prohibited and Permitted Uses

3. Wildlife and Habitat

September 2015 – State reviews status of Northern Spotted Owl. Significance: “The decline of Spotted Owls has not subsided in Washington and the population is becoming critically imperiled. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating whether to change the species’ status to Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. We recommend that the status remain as Endangered in Washington State.”

December 2014: Scientific study on the effects of noise on birds.  “Because the acoustical environment is a critical ecological dimension for countless species to obtain, interpret and respond to environmental cues, highly novel environmental acoustics have the potential to negatively impact organisms that use acoustics for a variety of functions, such as communication and predator/prey detection.”

Questions and Answers About Species in Decline (Word file)    PDF version


Endangered Species on the Olympic Peninsula (Word file)    PDF version

Critical Habitat on the Olympic Peninsula (Word file)    PDF version

Using Old Data to Justify New Impacts (Word file)    PDF version

2010 US Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion for Navy’s 2010 EIS (PDF)

National Marine Fisheries Service Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinion – August 2014 (PDF)

US Fish and Wildlife Service Estimating Effects of Disturbance to Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets in Northwestern California (PDF)

Effects of Overflights on Wildlife (Noise Pollution Clearinghouse Library)

“Behavioral and physiological responses [in wildlife] have the potential to cause injury, energy loss (from movement away from noise source), decrease in food intake, habitat avoidance and abandonment, and reproductive losses (National Park Service, 1994). Studies have shown that when certain bird species are flushed from nests in response to noise, eggs are broken and young are exposed to injury and predators (Bunnell et al., 1981; Gladwin, 1987). Young mammals have been trampled as adults attempt to flee from aircraft (Miller and Broughton, 1974). Another study compared mortality rates of caribou calfs exposed to overflights to those not exposed (Harrington and Veitch, 1992). Mortality rates were significantly greater in the exposed group. Milk release may have been inhibited in mothers disturbed by the noise leaving calfs malnourished. Animals rely on hearing to avoid predators, obtain food, and communicate. Auditory systems of some animals are particularly at risk to physical damage from chronic noise, for example desert animals that have evolved an acute sense of hearing.” ~ Noise Effects on Wildlife Fact Sheet (Noise Pollution Clearinghouse)

Anthropogenic electromagnetic noise disrupts magnetic compass orientation in a migratory bird  (Nature magazine)

Radio waves zap the biomagnetic compass (Nature magazine)

Electronics’ noise disorients migratory birds (Nature magazine)

Mysterious Whale Deaths In Alaska Baffle Scientists (Huffington Post)

Mellino, Cole. “30 Whales Have Died Off the Coast of Alaska and No One Knows Why,” EcoWatch, August 21, 2015.  Significance: while a toxic algae bloom on the West Coast is one of the largest ever seen, no tissue samples have yielded those toxins. It is doubtful that whale carcasses were fresh enough for evaluation of delicate ear tissue for acoustic damage to occur. NOAA is calling it an “Unusual Mortality Event.” Speculation: While Navy sonar can kill, it is also possible that sonar simply added more stress to already-stressed animals and pushed them away from normal feeding areas.

whale BC coast

4. Jet Emissions 

Fuel Dumping Navy Guidelines (PDF)  Read this and ask yourself, if the Navy can figure out how to weaponize directed energy, why can’t they figure out how to stop dumping so much fuel onto our oceans and over our communities? Why is this practice still so common?

Undated fuel dumping account by pilot (PDF)

Jet fuels composition (PDF), by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Web page from above Agency with Public Health Statement and Toxicological Profile  Note: no information has been made available to the public about the exact type of jet fuel used in Growler jets.

“Concerns among the island communities are not limited to the effects of noise levels. There have been eyewitness reports of jet-fuel dumping over Smith and Minor islands, west of Whidbey, both are national wildlife refuges surrounded by the largest kelp beds in the Salish Sea, key to sea life in this marine environment.” ~ San Juan Journal

EPA Evaluation of Air Pollutant Emissions from Subsonic Commercial Aircraft SUMMARY (PDF)

EPA Evaluation of Air Pollutant Emissions from Subsonic Commercial Aircraft FULL REPORT   NOTE: this PDF file is from 1999, and may not cover all substances found in jet fuel used by the military.

CO2 emissions from a Growler jet, Part 1 (PDF)

CO2 emissions from a Growler jet, Part 2 (PDF)

Chaff dumps as shown by various TV weather broadcasts (Word file)    PDF version

Fox5 and NBC7 News, San Diego. “Mysterious Booms” heard around the county and a possible connection to “Military Chaff” sprayed from planes and picked up on radar.” April 13, 2012.

StormTracker News 10, Southern Oregon. “Military spraying massive amounts of chaff shows up on radar,” May 16, 2010.

Titan AccuWeather ABC News. “Military chaff covers entire width of Florida,” January 23, 2008.

“When jet pilots are preparing to land their planes, they often release into the atmosphere much of the excess fuel, retaining just enough to make a safe landing. This maneuver decreases the possibility of a dangerous fireball in case of a crash landing. In the case of most airstrips, the fuel is discharged over land, but in the case of airstrips near a body of water, the fuel is often dumped over water, where it is less likely to be detected by humans who otherwise might be able to smell the toxic fumes. The military says that it does this fuel dumping maneuver to “save lives”, therefore justifying the routine dumping the fuel into the sea or over the land while seemingly being oblivious to the long-term health consequences for humans, animals and the environment.”              ~ Global Research, 2012 


5. Electromagnetic Radiation

Sobel, Eugene, et al. “Occupations with Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: A Possible Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease,” American Journal of Epidemiology, June 12, 1995.

Swanson, Nancy, Ph.D. “U.S. NavyU.S. Navy planning electronic warfare training in the Olympic National Forest” The Examiner, October 29, 2014.

Naval Medical Research Institute: Glaser, Z.R. 1972. Bibliography of reported biological phenomena (‘effects’) and clinical manifestations attributed to microwave and radio-frequency radiation. Description and download of PDF here.

US Air Force Materiel Services Office-Rome Laboratories:  Biological Effects of Radio Frequency/Microwave Radiation (1988)

World Health Organization Fact Sheet on EMF Fields and Public Health

A review of the ecological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF)

The Sensitivity of Children to Electromagnetic Fields (Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics)

February 2014 Department of Interior memo to FCC on inadequate standards for measuring hazards of cellphone towers to wildlife.

Why is electromagnetic radiation (electronic attack weaponry) from Growler jets not mentioned in any documents? (Word file)    PDF version

Electronic Attack:  More unanswered questions (Word file)    PDF version

This document, called “Bioeffects of Selected Non-lethal Weapons,” (a PDF file) was declassified by the US Army in 1998 and obtained in 2006 via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  It is so far “out there” as to nearly defy belief in its veracity. It was part of a 1998 National Ground Intelligence Center study on non-lethal weapons technology, the rest of which has not been declassified, and it explains in broad terms the effects of microwave radiation, laser light and sound on the human body and their potential for use in nonlethal weapons. There is very little available context for this report, but a 2012 article from Wired magazine may provide some insight.

2009 – Air Force Handbook on Radio Frequency Radiation Dosimetry (PDF)

Continually updated – EIN Military Industry News, Electronic Warfare Newsfeed

The Navy’s own web page on RF hazard avoidance  Concerns only heat effects but has a strong requirement that aircraft radars be turned away from personnel areas.

Undated Northrop-Grummann video:  How an Active Electronically Scanned Array (Radar) Works. This is about F-16s but EA-18G Growlers are equipped with this technology, too. The aircraft don’t just fly around trying to pick up signals but actively transmit directed energy locator beams that scan the ground. This technology is called “AESA,” short for Active Electronically Scanned Array. The Navy has not provided the public with any information on what the level, intensity, or chronic or acute impacts of such directed energy scans are expected to have on living tissue, especially in populated areas over 260 days per year, in perpetuity.  Nor has the Navy informed the public how this AESA directed energy differentiates between a hiker with a cellphone or VHF radio, and the mobile emitters the Navy proposes to drive into the Olympic National Forest. This is important, because “simulated harm shoots” will be directed from jets at mobile emitter signals, and no information exists on what this energy is or how far from the emitters a person or animal must be in order to not also receive a “simulated harm shoot.”


Harkinson, Josh. “Scores of Scientists Raise Alarm About the Long-Term Health Effects of Cellphones,” Mother Jones, May 11, 2015. (Significance: numerous links to source materials.)


6. Other issues

Is the Navy taking safety seriously?

If you want wind energy, don’t build turbines within 200 miles of a Navy base:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 7.30.06 AM

Click on the caption above to see the navy’s range of influence over alternative energy projects on private lands outside its base at China Lakes.

How much of the Pacific Northwest does the Navy occupy?

Fire Danger (Word file)    PDF version

Will there be drones? (Word file)    PDF version

Harassment and intimidation by Navy personnel (Word File)    PDF Version

900 of the 1300 known Superfund sites are abandoned military sites. Here’s a list of contaminated military installations in the US. EPA’s Indian Island Superfund site page in Port Hadlock.

Military Encroachment: Who is encroaching upon whom? Center for Public Environmental Oversight.

7. Sonar and explosives 

How Ocean Noise Pollution Wreaks Havoc on Marine Life,” Yale Environment 360, March 31, 2016. “Imagine filling a whole ocean with unbearable noise. Imagine that every 10 seconds there is an explosion that is rattling grandma’s china out of the cupboard, and it is falling on the floor.”

Thoughtful 19-minute documentary that presents new evidence and asks the question: Over the past decades, hundreds of whales and other sea creatures have been mysteriously washing up in beaches around the world, raising concerns from the environmental community: just how much damage have military sonars done to life under the sea? Comment from video: “I’m seeing everything in this ocean flee for its life from this sound.”  – Dr. Ken Balcomb, whale researcher, ex-Navy sonar technician.

Does Military Sonar Kill Marine Wildlife?” Scientific American, June 10, 2009. Significance: Sonar can “generate slow-rolling sound waves topping out at around 235 decibels; the world’s loudest rock bands top out at only 130. These sound waves can travel for hundreds of miles under water, and can retain an intensity of 140 decibels as far as 300 miles from their source. These rolling walls of noise are no doubt too much for some marine wildlife. While little is known about any direct physiological effects of sonar waves on marine species, evidence shows that whales will swim hundreds of miles, rapidly change their depth (sometime leading to bleeding from the eyes and ears), and even beach themselves to get away from the sounds of sonar.”

Why Whales and Sea Turtles Sometimes get the Bends

Changes in dive behavior during naval sonar exposure in killer whales, long-finned pilot whales, and sperm whales (Scientific paper)

Lethal Sounds:  How Sonar Harms Whales

Listing of news articles with links, on sonar effects on marine mammals. Orca Net.

Viers, Scott. “Scientists seek to silence sonar in the Salish Sea,”, March 1, 2012.

Viers, Scott. “Sonar heard in Puget Sound – through WA State ferry!”, February 29, 2012.

Big Blue Technical Diving News and Events. “Diver suffers pain from Navy sonar tests,” November 21, 2008.

Bombing the Arctic: US Navy War Games in Gulf of Alaska Threaten One of World’s Most Pristine Areas  also “Destroying what remains.”

The Pentagon Wants To Bomb The Hell Out Of This Tiny Pacific Island

Mellino, Cole. “30 Whales Have Died Off the Coast of Alaska and No One Knows Why,” EcoWatch, August 21, 2015.  Significance: while a toxic algae bloom on the West Coast is one of the largest ever seen, no tissue samples have yielded those toxins. It is doubtful that whale carcasses were fresh enough for evaluation of delicate ear tissue for acoustic damage to occur. NOAA is calling it an “Unusual Mortality Event.” Speculation: While Navy sonar can kill, it is also possible that sonar simply added more stress to already-stressed animals and pushed them away from normal feeding areas.

Large listing of news articles with links on sonar effects on marine mammals. Orca Net.

8. Ship Strikes 

Undated – Safe Passage Project Seeks Sustainable Solutions for Maritime Conflicts

2014 – July 23  Report: Spatial and Temporal Occurrence of Blue Whales off the U.S. West Coast, with Implications for Management



9. Marine pollution 

Navy ‘Sinkex’ raises pollution fears (Related note: The Navy is planning to sink two ships per year in gunnery exercises in the Gulf of Alaska, in the biologically rich ocean area just south of a line from Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island.)