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Scrutiny on US Navy’s secret and possibly unsafe plan for explosive- handling wharf

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a Poulsbo, Wash.-based anti-nuclear group. Ground Zero has accused the Navy of withholding facts that would have fully informed the public of the second wharf’s potential dangers, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Anti-Nuclear Groups Wary of Navy’s Planned Wharf Seattle Times | Dec 26, 2013 | by Kyung M. Song WASHINGTON — In September 2012, the Navy began in-water work at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor to build an explosives-handling wharf, a $650 million project anti-nuclear activists criticized as an unneeded vestige of the Cold War.

Unknown to the public at the time, however, was that plans for the new wharf had proceeded despite opposition from within the Pentagon.

An independent agency, the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, had refused to grant a permit for the project, citing concerns about how close it would be to an existing wharf that handles Trident missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Instead, the Navy obtained what’s called a secretarial certification. That allowed the service to assume safety risks for the second wharf on its own, clearing the regulatory hurdle for construction.The Navy’s omission of the safety board’s misgivings has become a key part of a long-running legal fight by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a Poulsbo, Wash.-based anti-nuclear group. Ground Zero has accused the Navy of withholding facts that would have fully informed the public of the second wharf’s potential dangers, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Among other things, Ground Zero contends the Navy’s final environmental-impact statement left out crucial information, such as that the two wharves violate the Pentagon’s minimum distance for separating explosives…..

Milner, of Lake Forest Park, Wash., said Ground Zero so far has spent $40,000 on legal fees, with much more unpaid. The group, founded in 1977, is made up of all volunteers and relies solely on donations, not membership fees.

In 2011, Milner won a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit he filed against the Navy regarding potential dangers at its munitions depot on Indian Island, near Port Townsend, Wash.

Milner says the Navy has never seriously assessed the explosive hazards posed by the adjacent wharves and that it has quashed public debate under the guise of national security.

“We are not afraid to take on the Navy. And we have proven our case,” Milner said. “The Navy wanted its wharf, and what others thought about it did not matter.”……http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/12/26/anti-nuclear-groups-wary-of-navys-planned-wharf.html?comp=700001075741&rank=1

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December 27, 2013 - Posted by | safety, USA

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