Monday, March 31, 2008

HI Superferry: Act. 2 Testimony from the Big Island

This is some good stuff. Be sure to click on Lee Tepley's links and read the attachments at his web site:

From: Lee Tepley
Sent: Sun 3/30/08 4:55 PM
To: Lee ((whale DVD)) Tepley

"About reliably detecting collisions between the Superferry and whales + other Superferry stories - feel free to circulate.

I attended the 6:00PM session of the EIS scoping meeting at Kona on March 27, 2008. The audience of about 30 people were quiet, reserved, maybe even a little bored – apparently nothing like the earlier Scoping meetings on Kauai. Belt Collins personnel were pleasant and charming. They seemed happy to have one million dollars of state money to spend on the illegal EIS. But, apparently, they still could not afford to provide an e-mail address for Kona residents to submit comments. You should have until April Fool’s day to submit Postmarked written comments.

About 7 people gave 3 minute presentations. Three of these (given by Duane Erway, Marjorie Erway and myself) were rather technical. I hope that Belt Collins is required by Act 2 to consider and comment on these presentations in it’s draft EIS. Otherwise, why even bother to have a "scoping meeting?"

The 3 minute presentations by Duane, Marjorie and myself are given on 2 new pages of my Superferry web site. To get there go to:

A brief summary of my presentation is given below.

1. I first made it clear that I agreed with Jeff Sacher who stated that he believed that both ACT 2 and the EIS were both illegal and unconstitutional.

2. I then discussed 4 techniques that could be used (probably simultaneously) to reliably identify collisions between the Superferry and submerged large objects - like whales, manta rays, etc. Specifically, the techniques involve mounting video cameras, accelerometers, hydrophones and/or low-intensity high-frequency sonars on or near the Superrferry’s two bows. The latter 3 items would be mounted near or below the waterline. All 4 of these techniques could be used simultaneously. Data would be recorded on hard drives or telemetered directly to a shore station for rapid analysis.

Duane Erway and myself had discussed requiring the Superferry to install such instrumentation for many months. We decided that this EIS scoping meeting was a good time to introduce the idea. Independently, Dr. Alex Leonard came up with similar ideas and presented them in a letter to Senator Barbara Chun Oakland. Dr. Leonard’s letter also emphasized the increasing danger of collisions with increasing vessel speed. You can read it as Attachment 2 on one of the new web pages on the Kona EIS Scoping meeting.

I should make it clear that reliably identifying collisions is totally different from avoiding them. HSF argues that observers looking through binoculars and using exotic night vision equipment will enable the Superferry to detect marine mammals and avoid collisions. Wrong!! There is no way that observers can detect animals when they are beneath the surface.

I expect that HSF will violently object to installing instrumentation on the Superferry to detect collisions since it would be embarrassed when collisions were documented. HSF might even be fined for killing endangered species. Also, HSF will claim that installing detection equipment would be a waste of it’s money or taxpayer’s money. But with one million taxpayer dollars already devoted to this illegal EIS, why worry about spending a few more dollars to reliably detect collisions with whales?

3. In Marjorie Erway's 3 minute presentation, she discussed how HSF has managed to avoid Duane Erway’s request that the Superferry be required to measure the noise output of the vessel. (Go to Attachment #3 on the Supplementary EIS Scoping web page.) However, there is fairly new evidence that this noise may be loud enough to cause direct hearing damage to marine mammals that come close to the ferry but are lucky enough to avoid being hit. The illegal EIS should require an independent contractor to make direct measurements of the noise put out by the Superferry when traveling at different speeds.

4. In Duane Erway's 3 minute presentation, he discussed possible shortcomings of HSF’s night vision equipment - especially on dark nights. (Go to attachment #4 on the Supplementary EIS Scoping web page.) The illegal EIS should require independent contractors to evaluate this equipment and specify how fast the Superferry be permitted to travel under conditions of normal and reduced visibility.

I hope that the above 3 minute presentations contain information to help attorneys in coming legal actions against Act 2.

Now, please go to my new Superferry web pages about the Kona EIS scoping meeting."

Lee Tepley

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