CITIZENS DONT WANT LIVE BOMIBING AT AVON PARK-Andrew Stelzer

03/04/05

For the past 3 nights, citizens who live near the Avon Park Bombing range on the border of Polk and Highlands county have been voicing their concerns and support for the use of live ammunition by the air force and the navy.

ACT-Richards “I live on one of 2 lakes n the first adjacent to the range…�

ACT “We are subjected to noise now to non live ordinances..that will increase greatly…�

Pam Richards lives in the south side of Frostproof, she was one of about 150 people who attended the public meeting hosted by the navy Tuesday night.

ACT …They don’t seem to think it will increase, but I invite tem to my house to see…�

But Richards says The noise generated by an extra 5000 bombs which would be dropped by fighter bombers on Avon park is the least concern she has about the navy’s plans—the biggest concern is there would be live high explosive bombs dropped only miles from her home.. Hank Kowalski is the conservation chairman for the highlands county Audubon society, he spoke at the meeting held In Sebring Wednesday night

ACT-hank “There’s so many different things that are being held hostage to the navy that should worry the people in south florid, because what happens on the range, they use ammo with spent uranium, it gets into the water table, into lake Okeechobee, then the everglades can become polluted, and contaminates south Florida water..�

A third meeting was held in Avon Park Thursday night. Although there are several different plans up for consideration, environmentalists have basically given up on stopping the bombing altogether, and are just trying to reduce the impact on forests, wetlands, and rare and endangered species.

ACT-hank “We have so many animals that are found so many places on earth that our officials county bird—there are so many plants that are federally protected, that will be at risk if the navy does what they want…�

The need for the bombing range arose in 2003, when after decades of protest, and US military bombing range on Puerto Rico's Vieques island was closed. Citizens there said that it contaminated their water, leading to health problems for residents—additionally, a man was killed by an errant bomb in 1999.

ACT--Richards “In Puerto rico when they were there, they left toxins there, they were found in the drinking water supply, they were found on the citizens s, the area had high levels of arsenic, cyanide, cadmium, it also effects the vegetation..�v

Jim Brantly is a media relation’s officer for the navy.

ACT-Brantley “This is not vieques..This has nothing to do with Vieques; we have used this for years…ISNT THAT MORE DANGEROUS? No we are doing safety concerns. Well use the center of the range.

ACT-Richards “Of course they predict them to be safe, and as we all know mistakes can be made…�

Kowalski is a veteran of the US military and can speak to the fact that operations sometimes don’t go as planned.

ACT-hank “There is nobody who disagrees that the navy need training, I wanted to be as trained as I could, but while I was training, I recall that our 1 mission we went on a night mission and our bombardier he toggled over a range, and we flew back to the base and noticed there was nobody on the field, and we said where is everybody, everybody is out fighting a forest fire, now they started a fire, you expect thing not to go right in training, that’s what you are training for….if we had been using live ammo, and they can drop 500 and 2000 pound bombs, could you imagine what would have happened..�

Both Richards and Kawalski say they were disappointed in the response from the Navy representatives at the public meetings.

ACT-Richards ‘Most of the people there brought up the concerns I did, there was a good turn out, but there weren’t any answers given by the air force or navy..�

ACT-hank “They don’t answer any of your questions, a stenographer took m down, but hopefully y you can get answers..�

WMNF asked Jim Brantley from the navy from the citizen’s questions would be answered.

ACT-Brantley “Most of the questions have been answered. Were just waiting to answer the email and written questions..�

If the plans are approved, the range will see live ammunition being used beginning about a year from now. Kowalski says he’s confident that nothing can be done to stop the use of live ammo.

ACT-hank ‘Come hell or high water, no matter what e say or do the navy will do what they at to do..�

Written statements in support or against using live bombs at Avon park can be submitted by the public by March 14th . for more information log on to www.avonpark.ene.com

comments powered by Disqus