Navy Representatives Openly Discussed Bombing Activities in the Marine Sanctuary

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Friday Harbor Councilman Howard Rosenfeld asked probing questions.

5/1/12 With a crowd at their backs and the concerned panel of the San Juan County Council facing them with some tough questions, the Navy representatives never wavered.  They were in Friday Harbor, Wa, to explain the legal process that constrains their activities in the  Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, a region home to many species of marine mammals and close to where an endangered Southern Resident orca, L-112, was found dead from explosive force in February ( see Marine Sanctuary and Whale Habitat is Being Used for Bombing Practice by the Military).
The navy representatives were civil and polite, they listened, and then they responded with the truth as they knew it, or at least as they were able to share.  If they could not answer questions, they referred the questioner to unclassified websites. They stayed after the presentation and answered questions for nearly two hours, working through lunch and only breaking off to race for the ferry.  In short, they were masterful and impressively well prepared.
Did they convince the crowd of orca researchers and enthusiasts that the Navy had nothing to do with the death of this orca?  Possibly, but no one seemed convinced that the Navy did not have a good idea of what happened.

Consider for a moment the fact that whole reason the Navy conducts these war games is to be prepared to protect our shores and harbors – in what universe does it make sense that they would not be thoroughly concerned at the evidence of a significant blast near the mouth of the Columbia River (Hanford Nuclear Reservation is upriver)?  Yet they only maintained their innocence and made reference to “ongoing investigation” (which is being done by the National Marine Fisheries Service in which the Navy is participating). 
Councilwoman Lovel Pratt read questions provided by constituents.

They did dodge some questions, particularly those that involved international cooperation (“Are they constrained by U.S. law when operating with Canadian military in Canadian waters?”  Unclear answer) or about past bombing in the Sanctuary (first claiming that the Navy had no records going back 15 years, then qualifying that to ‘not precise records’). But for the most part they were impressively sincere in their concern about the possible consequences of their activities.
Now if they would just find ways to prepare for combat without destroying the environment we would all rejoice, and in the halls of the San Juan County Council, they succeeded in convincing me that they are bright enough and dedicated enough to do just that.
Below is a partial recording of the Navy’s direct response to the San Juan Council’s inquiries: Answering the Council’s questions is John Moser, project manager for the environmental impact statement (eis) of the Northwest Training and Testing project.

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