Opinion: About the Navy pier expansion project

0
545

I support our military and honor the women and men who serve to protect our country. The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station desires to build a new pier and reconfigure the bay and breakwater. This proposal raises issues about the safety and welfare of nearby residents, motorists and cyclists; the impact of two large warships totaling up to six football fields in length on our bay, beaches and nearby residential neighborhoods; and if the military facility should be relocated altogether to a more isolated area for safety reasons.

The NWS pier is used to load missiles, torpedoes, and gun rounds onto military ships. Ammunition is stored in 128 bunkers on the property, and firearms training is conducted.

The NWS pier was built 73 years ago. In 1944, Seal Beach had 1,553 residents, and Huntington Beach 5,048. Huntington Harbour and its five islands of homes didn’t exist. The Wildlife Refuge didn’t exist.

Today, the NWS pier is embedded near public beaches, residential housing and the water route to Huntington Harbour. Seal Beach now has 24,000 residents, and Huntington Beach has 200,000. The Wetlands and the Wildlife Refuge are a critical habitat for birds on the Pacific Flyway route and to protect endangered bird species. Pacific Coast Highway is nearby and heavily travelled.

Our bay and wetlands are contaminated from decades of firearms training. Discharged lead shells have leeched into the bay, requiring environmental remediation and wetlands restoration.

Most important, our lives are potentially at risk. Military ships and ammunition bunkers are targets for terrorists and enemies of our great country.

We’ve seen attacks on the USS Cole, 9/11 twin towers, and on our embassies. The NWS pier is a giant bullseye for our enemies.

Residents of Seal Beach and Huntington Beach should be provided with risk analysis in the event of an ammunition accident or a terrorist attack, and an evacuation plan.

The current pier can dock one medium-sized military ship. The pier is discretely tucked into the bay, sitting parallel to Pacific Coast Highway.

The proposed new pier would dock two large war ships at the same time, up to 840-feet total. That’s almost six football fields in length.

Two large warships of that size would alter the appearance of the bay and would visually alter the public beaches and the residential neighborhoods adjacent to the bay.

The Navy also proposes to reconfigure the bay to re-route public boating traffic away from the large warships and to change the breakwater barrier that protects the bay.

In 1990, the Seal Beach City Council opposed a similar Navy proposal to expand the pier and reconfigure the bay, voting 4 to 0 in opposition.

Scientific studies are needed to determine the impact of changing the breakwater on the adjacent wetlands, Wildlife Preserve and shoreline of the public beaches. And analysis is needed to determine the effects of 840 feet of warships blocking the coastline view on the property values of the adjacent residences.

A bigger issue is if it is still appropriate to have war ships, missiles, torpedoes and gun rounds in our bay. Perhaps the warships, missiles, torpedoes and gun rounds should be relocated to a less populated area. The Navy could relocate these operations to Camp Pendleton, Port Hueneme or San Clemente Island, which all have existing military operations.

The USS Cole and 9/11 attacks changed our world. Is it prudent in a densely populated area to continue to: dock military war ships and store missiles, torpedoes and gun munitions?

The Navy reports that the NWS pier has exceeded its useful life. A bigger question is:  Has the NWS in the Anaheim Bay exceeded its useful life?