MY TURN | Save Navy jobs by cutting explosives wharf project
Glen Milner is a member of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo.
Kitsap Sun, Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.
With budget cuts ahead, the Navy proposes to cut jobs in our communities. Locally, the Navy plans to cut $65 million in maintenance for the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis after it returns from the Middle East this spring.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert has offered a broader list of drastic remedies if Congress does not pass legislation by March 1 to avert an estimated $4.6 billion shortfall in the Navy’s $39.4 billion operations budget. These plans include canceling most maintenance at private shipyards, as well as all aircraft work at maintenance depots, from April to September.
But the logical plan would be to cut new construction spending and waste. Examples of wasteful military spending are numerous, but we have one in Hood Canal that many have questioned since it resurfaced in 2008.
The Navy’s second Explosives Handling Wharf is a $715 million boondoggle. Construction, which involves drilling up to 1,250 pilings over 6.3 acres of water, began on September 27 and is to continue for four years. It should stop now, both to protect Hood Canal’s sensitive environment, and to free up taxpayer money for projects deserving of support.
By the time the wharf is built in 2016, it will no longer be needed because the numbers of nuclear weapons will be greatly reduced by that time. The Obama administration is considering cuts from the negotiated 1,550 nuclear warheads in the New START accord to 1,000 to 1,100 for the U.S. launch-ready nuclear arsenal. Economic issues make the cuts more likely to happen.
Stop the second Explosives Handling Wharf now, and we will also save:
— up to $15.7 million for projects which admittedly will not repair the environmental damage caused by the wharf, but which are planned “in lieu of” real mitigation;
— the Hood Canal shoreline, which should not be industrialized;
— the safety of the Puget Sound region. The Kitsap Sun has reported that the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, responsible for all military explosives siting, refused to grant a permit for the project because the site is not safe;
— the cost of two pending lawsuits under the National Environmental Policy Act which should force the Navy to halt the project.
Navy contractors have stated that the second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor would create only 100 construction jobs over four years. That is only one job for every $7.15 million spent on the construction project. This region deserves a wiser and safer use of this nation’s defense resources.