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Live-fire ranges: Fact of the day

(PaganWatch) — This fact concerns the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Range or MITT.

The MITT is one of the Navy’s five projects that create a massive live-fire training range in and around the Mariana Islands. The others are the Mariana Islands Range Complex, Divert Activities and Exercises, Marines Relocation to Guam, and the CNMI Joint Military Training. 

According to the Navy’s MITT Fact Sheet, the active sonar testing they conduct in the ocean around the Marianas has no real effect on marine mammals.  They say it “may affect certain species, but is not expected to decrease overall health and survival of any population. Almost all predicted effects are behavior responses that cause no injury.”

However, this contradicts studies conducted by both marine scientists and the Navy itself. In a previous environmental impact statement or EIS draft, the Navy admitted that the sonar exercises planned for 2014-2018 may unintentionally “harm marine mammals 2.8 million times over five years.” Included in this estimate are two million incidents of “temporary hearing loss,” and two thousand incidents of permanent hearing loss.

Orca researcher, Ken Balcomb, describes the Navy's active sonar testing as an "acoustic holocaust" that so panics cetaceans (whales and dolphins) that as they try to escape the sonic violence, they rise too quickly to the surface and die of "the bends." Balcomb also documented a mass stranding of predominantly deep-diving beaked whales that the Navy later finally admitted was a result of their active sonar tests.

The comment period for questions about the impacts of the Supplemental MITT ends on March 18.   The Navy is required by law to fully reveal the impacts of their activities. You can raise your concerns about the inconsistency and inadequacy of the Navy’s research on the impact of active sonar testing here:  https://mitt-eis.com/Public-Involvement/Public-Comment.

This Live-Fire Ranges: Fact of the Day is provided by PaganWatch, an Alternative Zero Coalition member.  For more information please visit http://www.chamorro.com.