Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, September 13, 2014

PUBLIC COMMENTS ON PROPOSED MISSILE DEFENSE BASE


Comments to Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Continental United States Interceptor Site 
TO: Missile Defense Agency MDA.CIS.EIS@BV.com

Our organization is opposed to any of the four proposed interceptor sites in Maine, Ohio, Michigan or New York.

First reason is because of enormous cost, especially at the time of severe economic hardship for people across the nation.

Secondly, the proposed GMD program is severely underperforming in its testing phase and has long suffered from corruption.

Thirdly, development of the interceptor base at any of these proposed sites would have severe environmental consequences.

In particular I want to address the proposal for Rangeley, Maine since I live and work in this state.

Culture:  The proposal to put the base in Rangeley would have enormous negative impact on the local culture by essentially doubling the size of the existing community.  Local schools and other human resources would be overwhelmed by the influx of personnel estimated to work at the proposed base.  There would be an obvious detrimental impact on tourist haven Rangeley area and against Maine's life giving tourist industry.

Environment:  The ridiculous notion of driving interceptor silos and missiles on already bad Maine roads would further destroy these roads that the state already cannot keep in good condition.  The idea of widening these roads in some places to make it possible to transport silos and missiles would have severe negative impact on the environment.  The state would not be able to maintain even wider roads since they can’t already handles their existing road network.  Blasting mountain areas to place the silos underground would also have severe impact on wildlife, native vegetation and water quality would be impacted.  It is my understanding that Poland Springs has a 1,000 acre water well near this area that would certainly be negatively impacted. Where's the enormous amount of gravel needed for this project going to be mined?

Liquid rocket fuels:  The toxic liquid fuels to be used in the interceptor missiles would have to be transported, stored, and then placed inside missiles.  This process would allow many opportunities for toxic spills in the area contaminating local water sources.  Liquid Hydrazines are most commonly known for their use in rocket fuels. They are highly toxic, colorless, flammable liquids with an ammonia-like odor. There are several types of hydrazines, including hydrazine, monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and 1,1-dimethyl-hydrazine, also known as unsymmetrical dimeth-ylhydrazine (UDMH). Hydrazine is unstable and is usually handled as an aqueous solution for safety reasons. Exposure to hydrazines can cause central nervous system effects as well as kidney and liver damage. Hydrazine and UDMH are listed as probable human carcinogens and classified under Group B2 by the U.S. EPA.

Solid rocket fuels: An analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that a toxic chemical in solid rocket fuel has severely contaminated the nation's food and water supply - read the Environmental Working Group study   http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_3250.cfm  Scientists warn that the chemical, known as perchlorate, could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age. This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated. Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and defense and aerospace contractors' plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans. Despite massive complaints, defense contractors have done little or nothing to clean up the pollution. Perchlorate has also been widely detected in milk, lettuce, produce and other foods. In an alarming study, the CDC found perchlorate in the urine of every person tested. The Organic Consumers Association has mobilized thousands of consumers to pressure the EPA and government officials to begin a massive clean up of perchlorate. The Environmental Working Groups report is an analysis of data originally released in 2005, when the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long anticipated report on the human health effects of perchlorates. Perchlorates have been found in 93% of lettuce and milk.... 97% of breast milk samples taken randomly from around the U.S. have tested positive for perchlorates. The government funded NAS report reveals that perchlorates are roughly ten times more toxic to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects and lower IQs, and are considered particularly dangerous to children. The NAS report recommends human exposure at no more than .0007 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The EPA has responded to the report by recommending a water standard reference dose of 24.5 ppb for perchlorate. This is bad news for military sites and rocket fuel plants around the country, including Henderson, Nevada, where EPA well monitoring has found perchlorates at a level 30,000 times higher than that. There are over 12,000 military sites in the U.S. that are used for training with live explosives.

GMD Program:  The Ground-based Midcourse missile defense system has been riddled with failure and corruption since its inception. In early 2000, the GAO received a request from former Rep. Howard Berman of California to review certain allegations of fraud in the missile defense program. Dr. Nira Schwartz, an Israeli-born scientist made the allegations while working at TRW - a defense contractor based in Los Angeles. TRW was a subcontractor to the defense behemoth Boeing Company. She was promptly fired from her job after she made the allegations. She alleged that a key component in the missile defense system – software to process signals collected by an infrared sensor - did not perform as advertised by TRW and Boeing.  She was intimately involved in the development of the software, which was used in a crucial test of the missile defense program in 1997 at a cost of $100 million. The contractors Boeing and TRW falsely claimed it was a total success. Many of the so-called “successful” tests over the years have been what scientists call “strap down rabbit” tests as they placed a beacon on the dummy missiles so that the interceptors could identify them in deep space at 15,000 mph.  For all these reasons and more this program should not be building any permanent deployment installations anywhere.  It is a huge waste of taxpayers dollars.

Public Hearings:  I attended one of the two “public meetings” that were held in Rangeley and spoke to others who attended them in Farmington.  In every case people who attended complained to me that the nature of the meetings had nothing to do with “public”.  The poster sessions, where people were swarmed with MDA and contractor personnel, were not very informative.  Many of my questions were not answered by those staffing the event.  (Such as what is the weight displacement on a road of a truck hauling silos or interceptor missiles.  I was told I’d be informed but I never heard from anyone with an answer.  This is why I’ve waited until the last minute to send in my comments.)  In most real public hearings there is a formal time when testimony can be taken from the public and citizens can listen and learn from one another.  The average citizen is not able to go into such a “hearing” like these and understand the many technical variables involved.  A real public hearing would allow citizens to learn from one another.  That is how true democracy works.  It was clear to me, and others that I spoke with who attended these events, that the MDA and its contractors intentionally and effectively limited the public participation process.  For that reason alone this public comment period should be extended and the hearings should be redone in a proper way.

No Decision: Our organization thus opposes the selection of any of the four sites and proposes that no selection be made.

September 13, 2014

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

- Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. - Henry David Thoreau

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