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Coast Guard pledges 'just the facts' approach

Michael Sollosi, chief of the United States Coast Guard's Office of Navigational Systems, understands that, to many, the question of whether to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound can be highly emotional. He also understands that, to many, the question can be highly political. But for the Coast Guard, said Sollosi, the question is simply a practical one: What's best for Nantucket Sound and those who sail its waters?

Michael Sollosi, chief of the United States Coast Guard's Office of Navigational Systems, understands that, to many, the question of whether to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound can be highly emotional.

He also understands that, to many, the question can be highly political.

But for the Coast Guard, said Sollosi, the question is simply a practical one: What's best for Nantucket Sound and those who sail its waters?

"We're trying to stay above that," said Sollosi, referring to the swirl of controversy which has surrounded Cape Wind Associates' plan for a wind farm in the Sound ever since the proposal was first announced in 2001. "Our concerns will be the safety of mariners and the protection of the environment."

To that end, said Sollosi, the Coast Guard will take a number of steps, one of which is the scrutiny of what Sollosi called "a very comprehensive study" conducted by the United Kingdom's Maritime Coastguard Agency, or MCA, on offshore wind turbines and their possible impacts to navigation, including any effects on radar or ship-to-shore communications.

"They're highly regarded," said Sollosi of his British counterparts.

Sollosi, however, emphasized that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Michael Sollosi, chief of the United States Coast Guard's Office of Navigational Systems, understands that, to many, the question of whether to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound can be highly emotional.
 
He also understands that, to many, the question can be highly political.
 
But for the Coast Guard, said Sollosi, the question is simply a practical one: What's best for Nantucket Sound and those who sail its waters?
 
"We're trying to stay above that," said Sollosi, referring to the swirl of controversy which has surrounded Cape Wind Associates' plan for a wind farm in the Sound ever since the proposal was first announced in 2001. "Our concerns will be the safety of mariners and the protection of the environment."
 
To that end, said Sollosi, the Coast Guard will take a number of steps, one of which is the scrutiny of what Sollosi called "a very comprehensive study" conducted by the United Kingdom's Maritime Coastguard Agency, or MCA, on offshore wind turbines and their possible impacts to navigation, including any effects on radar or ship-to-shore communications.
 
"They're highly regarded," said Sollosi of his British counterparts.
 
Sollosi, however, emphasized that the study, however highly regarded, would need to be analyzed and independently validated before being accepted.
 
Sollosi said the Coast Guard, not looking to reinvent the wheel, would also review the draft environmental impact statement prepared in 2004 by the Army Corps of Engineers as well as any other documents that could shed light on navigational concerns. That said, he added that Minerals Management Service, the agency that in 2005 replaced the Corps as lead review agency for the entire project, is looking at the proposal with fresh eyes.
 
"It's my understanding that MMS is going to have to start the EIS statement anew," he said.
 
The Coast Guard, said Sollosi, is already working on evaluation criteria for projects such as Cape Wind. Those criteria, he said, will be set for its First District (Northeastern United States) by October. After that, he said, the Coast Guard will leave it to officials with a working knowledge of an area to determine what does or does not meet requirements.
 
The chief emphasized that the Coast Guard is not taking a "one size fits all" approach, explaining that guidelines which might work well in the Pacific Northwest might not work well in the Gulf of Mexico or places like Nantucket Sound. For example, he said, collisions between large vessels are rare but almost always serious while collisions between recreational vessels are more common but often more manageable.
 
"Most marine accidents are low probability, high consequence," said Sollosi.
 
In general, though, reviews will examine factors such as: the types of vessels in a particular area, the volume of traffic, the mix of weather conditions, the location of fishing grounds, the size of a waterway or the dimensions of a particular channel. Coast Guard officials will also consider the character of the ocean floor - "Is it gooey mud or solid rock?" Sollosi asked - and navigational obstacles both man-made and natural.
 
"We evaluate each waterway individually," Sollosi said.
 

csalters@cnc.com

 


Source: http://www2.townonline.com/...

SEP 1 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/4315-coast-guard-pledges-just-the-facts-approach
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