Navy denies jet noise harm | Guest column

Submitted by COER

The Navy is being criticized for its response to citizens seeking a preliminary injunction to halt “ongoing and irreparable injury” from the “noise assault” by the jets based at Whidbey Naval Air Station. The EA-18G Growler jets are the loudest jets to fly and are the source of noise complaints.

The April 27 Motion for Preliminary Injunction was filed by Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Environment (COER). It was supported by declarations of victims and experts describing a host of “ongoing” injuries suffered by residents living near the Navy’s Outlying Field in Coupeville. According to COER, the Navy’s response to the request for an injunction ignores an important issue, which is harm done to people. The Navy submitted no studies or expert testimony to refute the evidence of harm presented by COER. Instead, the Navy seeks to have the motion denied primarily on the basis of technical procedural issues.

COER member Ken Pickard clarified, “The Navy’s response should serve as a warning to other communities being targeted for ‘warfare training.’

The Navy is willing to harm the very people and environment it is sworn to protect – and do so in the name of “national security.”  The OLF is used for repetitive touch-and-go operations where Growlers fly over the rooftops of more than 600 homes and 1,200 residents.  Many homes are located in the undesignated Accident Potential Zone where Growlers fly low enough for residents “to see the pilots faces.’

The Navy’s response to the COER’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction dismisses evidence of health harms as “nothing new,”  “anecdotal” and “time barred.”

The Navy asserts that its 200 ‘Environmental Assessment addressed the public’s concerns about noise and health. Evidence submitted by COER, however,  shows that noise levels, numbers of operations and adverse impacts on people, the environment and national parks of historical significance have far exceeded those predicted by the Navy. The declaration of Dr. James Dahlgren states, “The noise from the Navy’s Growler aircraft landing and taking off from Outlying Landing Field Coupeville, Washington, is causing and has caused serious adverse health effects in the residents as described in the 13 declarations of residents living near the field. As predicted from hundreds of scientific studies of health effects from noise at the levels measured near the OLF Coupeville by JGL Acoustics in 2013, such levels of noise pressure are causing insomnia, anxiety, depression, impaired concentration, hearing loss, tinnitus, hypertension, worsening diabetes, gastrointestinal difficulties and a major decrement in quality of life.”

Because the health impacts the Navy has not resolved stand poorly against those COER has documented, a halt to Growler operations at OLF is being pursued by COER to preserve health until the Environmental Impact Statement is completed and actual impacts to people and the environment are assessed. For info, visit citizensofebeysreserve.com.