Way Way Worse Toast Than Oil Drilling Off the California Coast

You never heard the expression You are toast!?

“Off the California coast drums and canisters leak radioactive material since the Navy dumped them after tests conducted at its San Francisco’s Hunters Point facilities.” — Susan Galleymore (words read right after the author came across http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0929/Feds-radiating-Americans-Mobile -X-ray-vans-hit-US-streets and an article on the very serious dangers of Wi-Fi)

Note: This is an archived site. All articles and sections were written for specific audiences, for particular purposes. Without the proper context, a given piece can be puzzling or off-putting. Ditto for the various sections. Please only read what is directly recommended to you. What’s below is UNEDITED. This was written primarily for people who tell me that they’re against drilling off the coast and/or those who say Californians would never allow drilling to take place, particularly after what came down in the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of BP and U.S. regulatory agencies et al. Everyone who is involved in activism is obliged to ask themselves WHAT deadlines exist for them. For surely, one cannot think that fighting this and that issue ad infinitum is sufficient. In terms of deadlines associated with major issues THAT amounts to fighting the good fight (only). [Pause.] I ask one and all to imagine that they’re in the midst of WWII Germany, and to consider whether or not they’d be content with addressing the environmental impact of a V2 campaign whilst not really doing anything about their country’s overall momentum. Our career politicians may halt this or that military-related abomination from time to time because of the pressure we apply, but they will not affect its major thrust. We can and must do more… which is totally fresh… whether or not it’s what I’m proposing. Now. [UPDATE: AS OF THE EVENING OF 9/30, I RECEIVED AN OVER-THE-TOP MISSIVE, DEMANDING THAT I REMOVE ALL REFERENCE TO A PARTICULAR PERSON. SHE OBJECTED TO A NUMBER OF THINGS FIERCELY, SOME -- TO BE FAIR -- LEGITIMATELY. HOWEVER, THE "DEMANDS" MADE, THE OBJECTIONS WERE NOT OPEN TO DISCUSSION WHATSOEVER. THE WORST WAS ASSUMED, AND THE DOOR TO DIALOGUE IMMEDIATELY CLOSED VIA EMAIL. FOR WHATEVER INDISCRETIONS I MAY HAVE COMMITTED, THE OFFENSE WAS CERTAINLY NOT INTENDED. AND WHILE I CERTAINLY INTEND TO HONOR HER WISHES, IT IS VERY INSTRUCTIVE THAT A PHONE CALL WAS NOT MADE, AFTER HAVING SPENT QUITE SOME TIME ON THE PHONE WITH THE WOMAN EARLIER TODAY. AT ANY RATE, THERE IS SOMETHING VERY UNHEALTHY ABOUT NOT GIVING ME A CHANCE TO PUT MY EFFORTS INTO CONTEXT, NOT ENCOURAGING ME TO EXPLAIN MY ACTIONS (IN WRITING WHAT I DID). I APOLOGIZE WITHOUT RESERVATION, HOWEVER, AS EVERYTHING I AM ABOUT -- AND HAVE WORKED FOR FOR SO MANY YEARS -- RECOILS IN HORROR AT THE THOUGHT OF HURTING ANYONE, OFFENDING ANYONE SO, CERTAINLY PEOPLE LEFT-OF-CENTER WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE SO GOOD. THAT SAID, I SHOULDN'T BE TOO SURPRISED, REALLY. FOR I HAVE -- UNINTENTIONALLY -- PROVOKED SIMILAR SHOCK/ANGER IN THE PAST... TRYING TO PUSH ENVELOPES, ATTEMPTING TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONES IN THE NAME OF THE COLLECTIVE GOOD. IT'S NOT THAT I AM "RIGHT" 'CROSS THE BOARD. RATHER, IT'S THAT THOSE WHO REJECT MY WRITING/TALK OUT-OF-HAND, WITHOUT ALLOWING ANY BACK AND FORTH FIRST SEEM TO BE "WRONG" 'CROSS THE BOARD. THE REAL PROBLEM FOR US ALL IS THAT NOTHING GOOD CAN COME FROM THE GOOD WORK OF SUCH PEOPLE, CITIZENS HOLDING ONTO SUCH ATTITUDINAL SETS.

Special note added following a phone call to the superb activist [I HAD TO REMOVE ALL REFERENCES TO THIS PERSON AS PER HER REQUEST] this morning of 9/30/10:

In my imagination, I fancy hearing [THE PERSON] say the following to people she comes across in her rounds: “As I get you to read this information, sign this petition and call your local representative, I know you know that I am not corruptible. And, on that note, because there are so many issues which beg for our “honest attention” — matters which have deadlines attached, which are life and death issues like what [HAD TO REMOVE THIS REFERENCE TOO] represents — I ask you to consider joining hands in solidarity to put a gubernatorial coalition into the Sacred Seat in Sacramento which is comprised of unaffiliated, non-politician citizens. I would be the write-in working figurehead candidate, but — once in office — I would make decisions on an equal basis with Susan Galleymore, Derrick Jensen, Wallace J. Nichols, Jeffrey St. Clair, Alexander Cockburn, Ishmael Reed and others — as per what’s delineated at http://oxtogrind.org/archive/687. We’d shoot for 2014, but we might instigate a “recall” prior to that… to secure the reins of power sooner rather than later. We simply cannot afford to waste any additional heartbeats thinking that we can do more than fight the good fight… as long as our efforts are contingent upon corrupt career politicians or permanently marginalized people in the electoral arena. How we can get elected is another conversation. In the meantime, as you recruit others respecting issues currently on the table, please spread the word about my candidacy.”

Way Way Worse Toast Than Oil Drilling Off the California Coast
by Susan Galleymore (with unsolicited tweaking by the Ox)

What’s below is Susan Galleymore’s work. I haven’t cared much for Susan… ever since she showed no interest in my pleas to discuss new paradigms for action… which might make a difference respecting matters which are dear to her heart. Very typical for the writers and activists who I’ve been trying to connect with over the last couple of years. In short, the whole kit and kaboodle — no exceptions, it seems — are content to document, demonstrate and delude themselves to death. Not open to bottom/up communication (if they’re part of an organization), primarily focused on fund raising or spotlighting themselves as a rule*. This may seem cruel, counterproductive. Yet… it must be voiced, this condemnation of what left-of-center concerned citizens are enveloped by. Otherwise, nothing fresh will be embraced, and — clearly — we will be doomed. [Pause.] Again, I have a recommendation for action which follows a new paradigm for pushing for change, for protesting. I post Susan’s work here because it has great value. And — as is the case with all who’ve rejected me in the past — I’m quite open (would be honored!) to have a rendezvous with one and all.

*Only sound bites are permitted if dialogue takes place at all.

Susan’s “Dumping the Navy Way” concludes with what seems like a highly negative statement. Flea Facing an Elephant” syndrome can be changed, however. That said, it will require that the reader prepare to confront the powers that be from a new angle, with heretofore untapped resolve, willing to make (something along the lines of) what is commonly called the ultimate sacrifice. By that last comment I don’t mean… giving one’s life. But for clarification… someone will have to invite me to visit them in person.

During the Bush Administration – it continues under Obama – the Department of the Navy (DON) divided the coasts and oceans into a series of “testing range complexes” (TRC) driven by five-year plans to conduct warfare exercises. They already conduct these tests in the Atlantic (and recently announced a notice of intent to expand this area), the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific.

Additionally, after the public comment period ends on October 11, 2010, the Navy will conduct a plethora of war exercises along 122,400 nautical miles of air, surface, and subsurface space in Northern California, Oregon, and Western Washington.

To be sure, such testing is in accordance with Title 10, Section 5062 of the US Code that provides:

The Navy shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea…responsible for the preparation of Naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war…with Integrated Joint Mobilization Plans…to meet the needs of war.

Perhaps people take war games for granted because such testing is provided for in this Code (fewer conspiracy theories if information is public?). But this information is not trickling down to the people it will affect. If anything, DON appears cagey about how it informs the public about its intentions.

Treat ‘em rough…and tell ‘em nothing

Rosalind Peterson is president and co-founder of Agriculture Defense Coalition (ADC). In a recent Raising Sand Radio interview (www.raisingsandradio.org) she said, “In Mendocino County (CA) there was a one-by-one inch ad in local papers of the smallest communities that the Navy could find in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. In Oregon they advertised in tiny communities with a total of about 250 people each. They didn’t publicize in the capital, Bend, or Portland or other, larger cities at all.”

Aides in California Senator Barbara Boxer’s office seemed to know little, if anything, about the Northwest Training Research Complex (NWTRC) when ADC’s Rosalind Peterson contacted them. A spokesperson said Boxer would “look into it.”

Peterson said, “If Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Thompson knew about it they did not notify their constituents along California’s northwest coast.”

War Games: Pacific Northwest

The Navy acknowledges that some testing is highly classified therefore the tests are not shared with the public at all. Its 1,000 page NWTRC Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) notes that the tests conducted off the Pacific Northwest coast will “take” an estimated 11 million marine mammals, about 2.7 million per year. A “take” is “a significant disruption in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors”; death is implied.

The “take” for decimated fish and bird life and the life that supports them is not mentioned. Neither is the “take” for civilians in the zone conducting commercial and recreation enterprises during tests. Beyond directions to websites for “Long-range advance notice of scheduled activities” local fishing, cruise ships, boating, and daily aviation passenger carriers passing through test areas will not be informed on the days testing occurs.

These war games include “a total of 7,588 sorties…[of] fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“drones ”), and naval vessels conducting exercises for 6,940 hours each year”1 with mid- and high frequency sonar, underwater constructions and detonations, bombing, missile and torpedo missions with arsenals from Hellfire missiles to drones and the use of air-, land- and water-borne “hazardous materials” (defined as solid, liquid, semi-solid, or gaseous “substances that pose a substantial hazard to human health or the environment by virtue of their chemical or biological properties”).

The list – “not exhaustive” – of chemical byproducts from underwater detonations, explosives, degradation products, failure and low-order detonations, and components of training materials is extensive. Hazardous materials discharged overboard beyond 12 nautical miles include spent acid, alkali (“carefully neutralize, dilute and flush overboard…”); solvents; water with corrosion inhibitors; aircraft washdown waste water; and submarine missile tube waste water that includes heavy metals and cyanide.

Physical debris includes live and expended ordnance and casings, sunken vessels, and blasted underwater construction.

Vessels, aircraft, and military equipment used in these activities carry and use hazardous materials with directives to manage the storage, use, and proper disposal of materials that may be harmful to the environment.

The list of materials to “Containerize for Shore Disposal” includes batteries, hydraulic fluids, insecticides, pesticides, waste oil, sludge, oily solid waste, grease, propellents, PCB, and mercury in the form of fluorescent bulbs.2

Given the Navy’s history, how and where are these materials disposed once “containerized”?

Out of Sight, Out of mind

The Navy has dumped explosives and vast amounts of other debris in the oceans for years. This is old news to NOAA, oceanographers, environmental groups, and the voiceless directly affected. NOAA has a map showing at least the last 60 years of the Navy’s suspected dump zones in the Gulf of Mexico.

Greg Gardner of South Beach, Florida reports in Indian River Magazine, “Closing Fort Pierce was a classic case of dump and run….To this day, ordnance washes up on Hutchinson Island beaches several times a year after heavy surf. ”

South Beach Mayor Bob Benton concurs. “They put trucks and tanks on barges and barges and dumped them in the Gulfstream….Tons and tons of Army hardware, hand grenades and bombs.”

Off the California coast drums and canisters leak radioactive material since the Navy dumped them after tests conducted at its San Francisco’s Hunters Point facilities.

The ongoing Superfund site clean up of former Naval Air Station, Alameda – at a cost, to date, of $428 million – regularly reveals mysterious contamination zones, sunken vessels, and toxic burn pits. During a recent Navy-sponsored tour, local residents watched from the bus as Navy personnel measured radiation on the vehicle’s tires with Geiger counters.

Yet the vast majority of Americans know little about the Navy’s dumping and warfare activities. Should We, the People, not know that the Navy’s ongoing five-year warfare test plans require only one EIS per TRC? And that any EIS can be extended without informing the public at all? And that these on-going activities affect our own and all other forms of life?

Howard Garrett, president of the Whidbey-based Orca Network’s board of directors, says this includes “almost everything alive in the ocean. Anything with an air pocket in their [sic] bodies.” The Navy says it will conduct fly-overs and set up watchers before performing potentially lethal sonar testing. “But, [for example] Orcas are by nature stealthy hunters. They traverse the entire Pacific Ocean, so they can be anywhere. They won’t be making noise so it will be extremely difficult for the Navy to know whether they are there before beginning testing.”

As goes the Pacific Northwest so goes the Atlantic

Meanwhile, as research and testing continues off US coasts, the Navy recently announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Overseas EIS (OEIS) to evaluate:

…the potential environmental effects with military readiness training and research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) study area. This covers approximately 2.6 million square nautical miles of ocean area, which includes Navy operating areas (sea space) and warning areas (airspace). While the majority of Navy training and many testing activities take place within operating and warning areas and/or on RDT&E ranges, some activities, such as sonar maintenance and gunnery exercises, are conducted concurrent with normal transits and occur outside of operating and warning areas. (Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Notice of Intent)

That is, everything planned for the Pacific Northwest will be repeated – and improved – in the Atlantic.

ADC’s Rosalind Peterson said, “Each one of these five-years-testing programs is immense…and very costly. We, the tax-paying public, will pay to replace all the bombs, missiles, and other arsenal used for these live fire exercises; we will pay heavily for the environmental degradation of ocean, land, and air; we will pay very heavily for the collapse of the marine mammal, fish, and bird populations. We don’t realize that one set of activities has a wide-ranging set of consequences.”

The Navy Way

The NWTRC EIS Resource Section: Socioeconomics addresses cost from the point of view of how unobtrusive Navy testing will be and how little it will impact civilians and businesses.

It is important to note that there are no restricted areas in the NWTRC. Normal right of way for fishing boats and all other vessels is honored throughout the range complex. In fact, to prevent interference during the conduct of their activities, Navy ships and aircraft intentionally seek areas clear of all other vessel traffic for conducting their training.3

The Table of Annual Commercial Landed Catch and Value within Washington Waters (2007) carefully records every fish of economic significance – over four dozen, from northern anchovy that, for example, generated $35,883 that year, to Dungeness Crab, $54,479,797, to Sockeye salmon, $89,802, even to “Unspecified bait shrimp”, $219,648.

Then, “Due to the low level of Navy activities, and the lack of interaction between the Navy and commercial interests, there are no expected revenue losses in any offshore industry….”

Unsurprisingly, the EIS Socioeconomics segment concludes, “the Proposed Action would result in no significant impacts. Therefore, no mitigation measures are required.”4

A Better Way

Those focused on one-dimensional “national security” in terms of military might makes right – rather than a complex, multi-layered, integral system of living wonders that offer generative mysteries rather than threats – can be assured that the Navy, and the other branches of the US military, already has enough of our planet to conduct testing. It has been doing it for decades. It does not need – and should not have – even more of our precious, already-stressed, and shrinking planet.

Nevertheless, after three years and thousands of comments received by people and groups in the Pacific Northwest, Marianne Edain of Washington’s Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN) perhaps it up, “I feel like a flea facing an elephant.”


1) NWTRC EIS – Hazardous Materials. Table 3.3-1: Number of Activities or Training Items Expended Annually – All Alternatives. Footnote 2, page 3.3-6.

2) NWTRC EIS – Hazardous Materials. Table 3.3-6: Selected Hazardous Materials Discharge Restrictions for Navy Vessels. Page 3.3-17.

3) NWTRC EIS – Socioeconomics. Page 3.14-7.

CONTACT FOR SUSAN: Susan Galleymore is author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, host of Stanford University’s Raising Sand Radio, and a former “military mom” and GI Rights Counselor. She was born in apartheid South Africa, lived in Israel from 1975 to 1977, and visited again in 2005. Contact her at media@mothersspeakaboutwarandterror.org. [DO LET ME KNOW IF YOU ATTEMPT TO CONTACT SUSAN OR ANYONE IN THE ARTICLE, IF YOU WILL. THAT MIGHT PROVE TO BE HIGHLY INSTRUCTIVE.]

CONTACT FOR THE OX: 831-688-8038 at any hour or aptosnews@gmail.com.