I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Second Explosives Handling Wharf Makes No Sense!

Glen Milner, local activist (and perpetual thorn in the Navy's side) with a long and respectable history of getting the facts, has been working long hours to understand just what is going on behind the scenes with the Navy's plan to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf (EHW) at the Bangor Trident submarine base.

Glen has learned many important things along the way; among them that the Navy has not provided the legal notice for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement(EIS), has withheld important information (particularly regarding the risk and effects of accidents), and has not addressed the fact that the Test Pile Program and the second EHW are connected actions. I've highlighted some of Glen's thoughts and findings.
I have learned recently how much influence the Navy has in our region:  New to me is how many people in the local science community work on projects funded by the Navy and work with the Navy in Hood Canal.  Individuals at NOAA, the University of Washington, etc. do not want to be publicly connected to an effort to stop a major Navy project.

I recently had a long discussion with retired oceanographer Norm Buske, who has spent many years monitoring the Navy in the Bremerton area and the DOE at Hanford, and other projects involving radioactive material.  Norm’s website is at http://www.radioactivist.org/  He has given us some issues to address.  I encourage anyone to try to get a statement addressing biological issues in Hood Canal... 
Glen recently spoke with Dr. Martin Hellman, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, who is notable for his work on risk assessment (see http://nuclearrisk.org/).
Hellman supports our efforts [regarding the EHW] but he wants to stay focused on the risk of nuclear war.  He understands the risk of an accident at the wharf and knows that Lockheed Martin has a history of underestimating the possibility of a catastrophic systems failure, as with the Space Shuttle Program.  Hellman has been featured in at least one publication lately, at http://www.daisyalliance.org/newsletters/daisy-alliance-201104.html.
Glen sums things up with the following logic (something the Navy's claims don't seem to have).
The more I look at the Navy’s need for the wharf, the less it makes sense.  Most of the contracts for the Life Extension Program for the D-5 missile appear to be complete by 2016, which is the earliest year a second wharf could be completed.  The upgraded missiles should be nearly complete and should be deployed on submarines by then.  I do not believe the Navy’s claim of needing 400 “operational days” per year for loading and unloading operations in Hood Canal.  This is twice as many days as the Navy claims it currently requires.
There are far too many unanswered questions about the EHW - "operational days", safely conducting operations at two adjacent EHWs, and why we even need another EHW in light of Glen's point in the previous paragraph, to name just a few - to rubber stamp such an expensive and wasteful project.  The EIS is window dressing in a very real sense.  There is so much more at stake here than eel grass, seals and starfish.

It is time to say an emphatic "NO" to the Navy's unnecessary plan for a Second Explosives Handling Wharf!

Read more from Glen in his recent Op-Ed, Public needs to know about Navy operations, in the Kitsap Sun.

Go to our Act Up page to take action and comment on the EHW!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"The Navy would like your input" - yeah, sure!


The Navy held three public hearings last week about its plan to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, home of the mighty Trident nuclear submarine fleet.  A fair number of people attended the Seattle hearing on Thursday.

In one room were many impressive visual displays about everything from the purpose and need of the project, alternatives, potential effects on the environment and mitigation measures.  There were experts present to answer our questions and allay our fears.  It is, however, all about eel grass and elephant seals; there's nary a mention of NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

I heard people asking some very pertinent and often difficult questions; among them, "Why do we even need an additional explosives handling wharf?"  It always came down to the need to support Trident's strategic mission along with the concern that the existing wharf doesn't provide enough "operational days to support the Trident mission for the foreseeable future."

The Navy will not provide any documentation about why it requires "400 operational days per year," which is troubling when one considers that based on treaty obligations and movement towards disarmament the Navy is operating the Trident subs with fewer warheads per missile (down to 4 from 8) and should be reducing the number of missiles deployed per submarine in the near future.

Additionally, once the Trident D-5 missiles are outfitted with the new and improved W76-1 nuclear warheads (that's right folks; these are essentially brand new warheads based on the replacement of parts coupled with the addition of some newer, improved parts), I would expect little need for further change-out of warheads due to the lifespan of those newer warheads.

During the second part of the Thursday program the people were given the opporunity to comment on the Navy's plan.  Many people approached the microphone, and each and every person said an emphatic "NO" to the plan for a Second Explosives Handling Wharf.  All spoke intelligently and passionately.

The only option, from the standpoint of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), should be the No Action alternative, meaning the Navy would not build the wharf.

At a time when our nation can not afford another military construction project that will most likely cost close to a billion dollars when the muddy waters settle, and more importantly needs to set the example to lead the world to nuclear disarmament, another project that clearly indicates the government's continued reliance on a Cold War strategy of "deterrence" will only serve to continue to destabilize and counteract non-proliferation efforts.  The result will be the continued build-up of nuclear arsenals around the world, and the eventual use of nuclear weapons with catastophic global effects.

Don't forget to make YOUR comments on the proposed Second Explosives Handling Wharf before the May 2nd deadline.  Click here to go to the Navy's EIS Website where you can enter your comments online (click on "Comment").

Thanks and Peace,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Glen Milner on the Second Wharf, and more...

Thanks to Mike McCormick of KEXP Radio for this interview with Glen Milner of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action about his Supreme Court case against the U.S. Navy, nuclear warheads on the highways and the proposed expansion of nuclear warhead loading capability (Second Explosives Handling Wharf) at the Bangor Trident Nuclear Sub Base near Seattle. 

Click here to read Glen's April 15, 2011 Op-Ed in the Kitsap Sun.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anabel Dwyer on the Bangor Second Explosives Handling Wharf

Here is a comment submitted on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor from Anabel Dwyer, Esq, a Michigan attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), the US branch of the International Association of Lawyers’ Against Nuclear Weapons (IALANA). She has studied, lectured, taught and written widely on public international law in particular human rights and humanitarian law (the laws of war) and nuclear weapons.

Among her many professional accomplishments, Anabel was a member of the IALANA Legal Team for the World Court Project during the 1995 International Court of Justice (ICJ) Oral Hearings on Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. (The World Court concluded that nuclear weapons were illegal under international law.)

Most recently Anabel assisted the Disarm Now Plowshares throughout their journey through the Federal (in)justice system.

Comment on the DEIS for the Trident Naval Base Kitsap Bangor Explosive Handling Wharf
By Anabel Dwyer, Board Member, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement(DEIS) regarding the proposed Trident Naval Base Kitsap Bangor Explosive Handling Wharf (EHW)is wholly inadequate because it does not consider the environmental impact of accidental or purposeful detonation of the Trident nuclear and conventional explosives for which the wharf is designed.

According to the DEIS the purpose and need to construct a new Explosive Handling Wharf (EHW) at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (NBK Bangor) is “to support future Trident programs requirements for the eight Trident submarines currently home-ported at NBK Bangor and the Trident(D5) Strategic Weapons System.”

Yet in its stated commitment to core values the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP),author of the DEIS and private contract coordinator, vows to “do what is right and honest and always tell the truth.”

The question that needs asking is not only whether the Navy needs a new EHW but what is right and honest and who is telling the truth.

As we speak, the Disarm Now Plowshares, two Fathers, two Grandmothers and a Sister, all elderly, are incarcerated in the SeaTac Federal Penitentiary. Their crime was to enter the NBK Bangor Base to peaceably put up a banner stating the truth, “Disarm Now: Trident Illegal and Immoral.”

The SSP and the Navy base their pursuit of a new EHW on the presumed legality of the “life extension” program for the eight Trident submarines home-ported at the Kitsap Bangor Naval Base to provide a “credible deterrent” until at least the year 2042.

But let’s be honest and truthful. We all know or should know that the vast and indiscriminate heat, blast and radiation of any Trident nuclear weapon cannot be controlled in space or time.

A credible deterrent is an active, ever-present, real and fundamentally unlawful threat to unleash these weapons by accident or design.

The Trident is a grotesque weapon of mass destruction that inherently violates the Navy’s law of armed conflict which prohibits any weapon such as the Trident that is incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets.

We all have a legal obligation to “pursue in good-faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects.”

Because of the continuing very serious contamination problems at the Hanford Nuclear site, citizens of the state of Washington certainly understand that the corporations that profit from building new facilities or extending the “lives” of these weapons should be held liable up front for all accidents and harms from the Trident nuclear weapons system.

There is clearly no reason for a new wharf because preparation to use or threaten to use the Trident system is fundamentally unlawful. The reality of the grave threat posed by the presence of these weapons in and from the Naval Base Kitsap Bangor can no longer be denied. For practical and environmental reasons too we need to get on with good-faith complete nuclear disarmament.

Signed: April 18, 2011 (submitted Arpril 19, 2011)
Anabel Dwyer, J.D.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bangor 2nd Explosives Handling Wharf: Public Needs to Know!

Public needs to know about Navy operations
(Glen Milner's Op-Ed published in the Kitsap Sun, April 15, 2011)

What value is an open government if information is denied when the public needs it the most? Or when information becomes secret that is embarrassing to an agency or may bring an unfavorable public response to a governmental action?

The Navy is currently conducting an environmental review for a massive new wharf in Hood Canal, to be used to load Trident nuclear missiles onto submarines. The current estimate for the proposed four-year project is $782 million. The Navy acknowledges that it has loaded Trident submarines at the Bangor submarine base for nearly 30 years with just one wharf. Now, with already reduced numbers of ballistic missile submarines, and much greater reductions in missiles and nuclear warheads in the near future, the Navy wants a second wharf.

The Navy claims it needs the wharf for the so-called Life Extension Program for the Trident D-5 missile. The Navy has stated that in the future, it will need twice the number of "operational days" to handle its 130,000-pound missiles as it does now.

In its environmental assessment, the Navy stated the 1,250 to 1,500 pilings for the wharf and overwater structure will cause "insignificant" cumulative impacts to Hood Canal. The Navy notes that some endangered species such as the Puget Sound orca, are occasionally seen in Hood Canal. The Navy adds that they have not dropped a missile, causing a catastrophic accident in Hood Canal in the past 30 years.

According to the Navy, that is all the public needs to know. They want the wharf and the rest is just a formality.

For the past two years, the Navy has denied my Freedom of Information Act requests for records explaining the need for the wharf, such as the Navy's Business Case Analysis and related records. Making records unavailable for public discussion, the Navy claims to have lost some records after gathering them for processing, and has withheld official determinations by the Navy's General Counsel.

I feel the Navy does not want the public to know that its proposed $782 million wharf is unnecessary while crucial social services in education, health care, and transportation are being cut for lack of funds.

The Navy also apparently does not want the public to know about the explosives hazards involving missiles at the wharf. One Trident SSBN submarine contains enough rocket propellant to equal 3.7 million pounds of TNT. The 24 missiles on a submarine now each carry about four nuclear warheads. Although the risk of a catastrophic accident is small at the base, the risk of an accident increases the more often the missiles are handled.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is located at https://www.nbkeis.com/ehw. Some appendices to the Draft EIS, which would normally provide meaningful information, are completely withheld, such as Appendix A, Purpose and Need; Appendix B, Alternatives Considered; and Appendix C, Explosives Safety Arcs "

I first learned to file FOIA requests in 1986 when I discovered that a derailed train near Shelton contained large amounts of high explosives, despite denials from Navy officials. I have learned that FOIA suits against the Navy are difficult and time-consuming. The case recently decided 8-1 in my favor by the United States Supreme Court, Milner v. Navy, has taken over seven years. Although the Navy lost, I still do not have the records.

The Navy should tell citizens in the Puget Sound region the truth about its operations instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

The Navy is conducting a public comment session for the proposed wharf at Bangor on April 19 in Poulsbo, April 20 in Chimacum and April 21 in Seattle. Each session is from 6 to 9 p.m. Come and bring some questions and see for yourself.

Glen Milner lives in Seattle and is a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington; http://www.gzcenter.org/.


Thanks to Glen for this informative piece that ran in the Kitsap Sun on April 15, 2011.  Click here for the dates, times and locations of the public hearings.  Click here for the Navy's EIS Website for the planned wharf.
Please attend one of the hearings, and comment on the project before the May 2, 2011 deadline!