Meeting on Navy jet noise effects from Whidbey Island slated for Jan. 27 in Port Townsend
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Noise produced by Navy jets, including the EA-18G Growler above, will be the topic of a meeting Jan. 27 in Port Townsend. — U.S. Navy/Paul Farley

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A meeting to discuss the impact of jet noise on human health is scheduled for Jan. 27, four days before the end of the extended public comment period on noise generated by Navy jet operations on Whidbey Island.

“Constant jet noise can have all manners of negative health effects, including hearing loss, disruption of sleep patterns and our hormones,” said Karen Bowman, who is making the presentation.

“The excess noise creates a cascading effect on our health.”

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St.

Jet noise from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island prompted complaints from neighbors. The noise at the Outlying Landing Field in Coupeville could be heard in Port Townsend and other areas of the North Olympic Peninsula.

The jet noise can be heard farther west on the North Olympic Peninsula, according to Pam Stinson who lives “in the elbow of the Dungeness Spit” and has been disturbed by the tests.

“Sometimes it feels like an earthquake, or a train,” she said.

“I'm sitting in my house and stuff is falling off the shelf.”

Stinson said the allowance of the high noise levels points out a contradiction in governmental policy, there are several restricted activity areas around the spit, but the noise is most likely more disruptive to wildlife than the forbidden activities.

Bowman said she didn't have any data specific to Port Townsend and could not quantify the noise impact on the town, but said that she had observed PTSD-like symptoms in people who live near the landing field.

The meeting is sponsors by Citizens of Ebey's Reserve (COER), a Whidbey Island-based group that seeks to close the landing field and move its operations to another location.

“For seven months they flew somewhere else, so we know they don't need to use this field,” said COER spokesperson Maryon Attwood.

“And at a length of only 6,000 feet, the runway, which goes back to World War II, isn't designed for this type of operation.”

Attwood said her group has gained experience in the Navy's comment process and seeks to inform Port Townsend residents how to better target their comments and “keep people on topic.”

“We want to give the people of Port Townsend as much information as we can,” Attwood said.

“After the meeting they'll have four days to make their comments, which is plenty of time.”

Attwood said she did not know if any Navy representatives would attend the event.

Calls for comment on Monday to the Navy were not returned.

The comment period began Sept. 5 and was extended due to the governmental shutdown, according to a press release.

Meetings to take testimony in preparation of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, took place in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Anacortes in December, but no meetings took place on the North Olympic Peninsula or at any other location.

Sponsors hope the Port Townsend meeting, while unofficial, will give residents a chance to make their opinions known.

To submit comments by mail, write to EA-18G EIS Project Manager (Code EV21/SS), Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, 6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23508. Comments for the EIS also can be submitted on www.whidbeyeis.com.

Noise complaints can be made on a form at http://tinyurl.com/pdn-wicomment-pdf. After completing the form, email to comments.NASWI@navy.mil.

There also is a comment line at 360-257-6665 and an email address at comments.NASWI@navy.mil.

All other questions can be directed to the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Public Affairs Office at 360-257-2286.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 20. 2014 6:39PM
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