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)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stop the Bangor Test Pile Program; End Wharf Envy!


The U.S. Navy is moving ahead with plans to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington, one of two home ports for the nations Trident nuclear submarine fleet.  Why???

The current Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor is able to handle the current workload. However, according to Joe Graf, of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program in Washington, D.C. “What we’re looking at is the future.”  Of course, "the future" he says.  Beneath all the reasons outlined by Graf, might the real reason be... Wharf Envy???

Yes, wharf envy!  You see, the Navy's other Trident base in Kings Bay, Georgia has TWO explosives handling wharfs, and I'll let you use your imagination as to what folks at Bangor think about that.  After all, we have two more Trident subs than they do at Kings Bay.

But the best reason to question the need for a second Explosives Handling Wharf is that with ratification of the New START Treaty and what should ultimately be a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons and thereby fewer missiles and warheads on those Trident subs, why do we need another Explosives Handling Wharf???  And, of course, it will be a huge waste of money that we don't have to waste in the first place.

We have an opportunity to stop this project, but we must act quickly! The Navy is proposing a Test Pile Program—a plan to drive in and remove 29 large pilings in Hood Canal this summer. It is under review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Environmental Assessment—which is less stringent that the Environmental Impact Statement for the wharf (very sneaky).  The Navy is essentially trying an end run around the Environmental Impact Statement process.  That is NOT acceptable!

Please write a brief comment on the proposal and sending it to NOAA by February 24th.  Enough comments against the project could bring the entire Second Explosives Handling Wharf project to a halt. Address your comments to:

Michael Payne, Chief, Permits
Conservation and Education Division
Office of Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD   20910–3225.

Email your comments to Mr. Payne at: ITP.Laws@noaa.gov no later than February 24th.

Click here to read the project announcement in the Federal Register.

If you haven't commented before, here is some advice from Glen Milner, who is very well versed in these matters.  He also believes, based on his previous experience, that we have a good chance of stopping this project if enough people send comments.

1. Briefly state your interest in the project -- that you live, travel and/or visit Puget Sound and Hood Canal and that you are concerned about the environmental health of Puget Sound and Hood Canal.
2. IMPORTANT—IF YOU PREVIOUSLY COMMENTED ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS) FOR THE SECOND EXPLOSIVES HANDLING WHARF (EHW)—be sure to mention you commented on the EIS and you are upset, concerned, worried, etc. that the Navy is trying to bypass the EIS and start this smaller connected project. The key word here is "connected."  Use the term "connected" because the Test Pile Program (which the Navy wants to do this summer) and the larger second EHW are connected actions. They should be considered together (and the Navy is trying to avoid this).
3. You can state that it makes no sense to damage Hood Canal with the Test Pile Program when the project is for the second EHW. The second EHW could be canceled. If you already commented on the EIS, you can be rightfully upset that the Navy is trying to ignore your comments and proceed (you do not have to say what your previous comments were on the wharf.) 
Together we can build a nuclear weapon-free world.  Stopping the Second Explosives Handling Wharf is an important task along the way. Join us!  And remember - The comment deadline is February 24th!

Peace and Thanks,


Note:  Special thanks to Glen Milner for his continuing work on the Bangor Second Explosives Handling Wharf, and for all his work toward a nuclear weapon-free world.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Path of Most Resistance


Water is truly the essence of life. It is likely from some primordial soup whose primary component was water, that life began on Earth. Our bodies are largely composed of water, and it sustains us in so many ways. And, of course, water flows, finding its way without resisting. And to what effect; consider the Grand Canyon.

Members of the Pacific Life Community, which held its annual retreat over the two days before its March 2009 vigil and action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, brought water from various places from which they came. On the day of the action they poured all their water offerings into a single glass vase, after which they took conifer boughs whetted with that water and sprinkled each other, and also sprinkled water in the direction of the base and soldiers standing guard while singing "Peace is Flowing Like a River."

After this blessing of the waters, a group of resisters from the Pacific Life Community walked onto the roadway and crossed the blue line onto the base. They kneeled down, and Chris Rooney poured the remaining water onto the roadway, and as he described it, "watched it run towards the earth by the highway."

Here is the poem Chris wrote for this ritual, followed by the personal mantra of one of the other resisters, John Owen.

These waters have come from many places to mingle here but the truth is they have mixed and separated countless times before now. They have traveled many miles through time, and air, and sand, and rock, and wood, to be with us. We ask God the creator of water, to bless our resistance to the evil of men and to cleanse the land of their crimes.
To that God who’s name is Peace, Love and Justice we pray for healing to fall like rain and wash away the sins of greed and violence, and nourish the flowering of love within all people.
Be like water, seek the lowest places. Water, by resisting nothing, overcomes everything. - John Owen

I am often asked if our resistance to Trident makes a difference. I generally explain that although we hope to someday see the end of Trident and all nuclear weapons, whether or not we "make a difference" is not so important as our choosing to resist. Our knowledge makes us accountable, and we make a moral choice to resist, because to do otherwise would be to become part of that which we resist - weapons so inhumane and genocidal .

In reflecting on the ritual performed by members of the Pacific Life Community at the Trident base, I begin to see our resistance to Trident as much like the action of water. Water occasionally demonstrates its power in dramatic fashion, causing unimaginable changes due to the magnitude of its force. But most often it works slowly, steadily, imperceptibly (as in the example of the Grand Canyon), creating extraordinary effects that we marvel at today.

Whether or not we see the effects of our resistance in our lifetime is (to me) not important, and out of my control. Whatis important is that we choose to act, and much like the water, never give up. Individually, we are small streams, but we flow together to become a mighty river, picking up others along the way, slowly doing our work, often barely noticed, until one day, perhaps, we will have created a world free of nuclear weapons. And what a day that will be.

May we all (in our nonviolent resistance) be as gentle, and yet as strong as water.



Thanks to Chris Rooney for sharing his poem, and to John Owen for sharing his personal mantra. Chris Rooney (and Karl Germyn) publish The Christian Radical blog, a Catholic Worker information and resource service run by the Catholic Worker community of Vancouver Canada.

As for the title of this post, it comes from the 2009 War Resisters League calendar, The Path of Most Resistance: A U.S. Radical History Tour.