Whidbey News-Times


Navy needs an updated location | Letters

March 9, 2013 · Updated 11:32 AM


Touch-and-go practice at Navy’s Outlying Field differs from the jet noise in Oak Harbor, which in most areas occurs for brief sporadic intervals, mostly from afar, throughout the day.

At OLF, the attendant noise is literally on top of you and constant during a practice session, approximately 40 minutes, involving the circling of two to four jets.

After a brief break, one session is usually followed by more.

While a single session is certainly bearable, the effects on life magnify with each added session.

Sessions can start in the morning and go on until after midnight, and this can be five days a week over multiple weeks.

In Admirals Cove, noise levels cycle up and down as each jet circles across the cove.

With four jets circling, the lowest outside noise levels of 60-70 decibels (dB) last about 20 seconds. Intensity increases to 110-120 dB for 15 seconds as the each jet crosses overhead.

Inside levels are about 10 dB less.

Sound intensity doubles every for every 3 dB increase, so at 110 dB sound intensity is about 256 times louder than at 85 dB, the threshold for hearing damage requiring hearing protection.

During sessions, some cove residents report becoming physically ill; others get headaches or tinnitus.

Forget making business or personal phone calls or entertaining friends inside, let alone outside.

Forget radio or TV or conversing with neighbors. Many find it impossible to go to sleep. Children may have trouble focusing on homework.

Those doing outside housework, walks, etc., need to keep their ear plugs or muffs at ready access.

And aside from effects on quality of life, effects of noise on adult, child, and prenatal health are quite profound.

The Navy recognizes the egregiousness of the problem elsewhere. In Washington County North Carolina  where an OLF was recently proposed, the Navy iteratively documents their need to buy up the land/residences within the area where noise levels would exceed 60 dB.

In doing so, the Navy admits, de facto, that Growler noise  greater than 60 dB is a legitimate problem they had to address via resident relocation.

Are Washington state residents less important than Washington county residents?

Taxpayers have gotten their bang for the buck out of the OLF, which has served our country for over 70 years.

During that time the understanding of noise impacts have advanced, while the island’s demographics and the jets have changed dramatically in incompatible ways.

The Navy may be comfortable with the OLF, but it’s time to get the elephant OLF out of bed and moved to a 21st century location.

Robert Wilbur


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