|Assessment states why
FASTC site dismissed
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor, American
RUTHSBURG, Md. — The
long-anticipated draft environmental assessment of the plan to locate a
Foreign Affairs Security Training Center on 2,000 acres in Queen Anne’s
County confirms not only what opponents feared, but why it was abandoned
by federal officials.
The precisely detailed assessment
states that the facility would be noisy beyond acceptable standards, disruptive
of the environment and of surrounding neighborhoods and residences, a dangerous
nuisance on the roads leading to it, a threat to the Delmarva fox squirrel
and a toxic imposition on activities at Tuckahoe State Park.
The assessment was released
to the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association which had sought documents
relating to the training center since January when it filed a Freedom of
When the Department of State
and the General Services Administration, which were administering the project,
failed to respond, QACA went to court in April, suing for the release of
the documents. The court held with QACA and ordered the documents
submitted to the association in September, even as federal officials were
reportedly looking at another tract in the coal mining area near Wilkes
Barre, Pa. Among the documents, now in possession of QACA, is the draft
assessment, which, as expected, had been heavily redacted.
Nonetheless, its recorded
assessments confirm the significant impact which the facility would have
imposed on a broad section of the county. Interestingly, the draft document
appears to have been prepared at two different times.
The early pages contain
the folio line, “Preliminary Draft Environmental Assessment May 28, 2010.”
Later pages contain the
folio line: “Cancelled Draft Environmental Assessment July 2010.”
Also of note is that the
assessment looks at two radically different locations for training areas
within the center, the original, called “Alternative A,” and a second named
Alternative B evolved, according
to the assessment document “to respond to initial public scoping input.”
The assessment, in one broad
section, focuses on the noise which the facility would have generated.
Noise levels, it is noted,
are usually measured and expressed in decibels (dB) that are weighted to
frequencies perceivable by the human ear, known as A-weighted sound levels
and expressed as dBA.
For example, the standard
dBA level for a residential area is 55dBA, for a commercial area, 64dBA
and for an industrial area, 70 dBA.
A commercial jet taking
off from 200 feet away has a dBA of between 108 and 115.
Mock urban training — cars,
guns, explosives, etc. — has a dBA of 110 and a one-pound submerged charge,
a dBA level of 107.
A three-pound submerged
charge, the assessment document notes, carries a dBA level of 117.
Here are some excerpts taken
directly and verbatim from the assessment report:
In summary, based on an average
training day scenario, noise impacts under either alternative could be
considered moderate to major for those residences that are located within
the 55dB average training day contour. In addition, under both Alternative
1 and Alternative 2, the majority of Tuckahoe State Park would be located
within the 55dB contour and this would represent a moderate to major impact
on the park, which could negatively impact user experience.
Worst-case noise levels in Ruthsburg
from the firing ranges are predicted to be 70 dBA under either Alternative.
Depending on the duration of training activities on the firing ranges,
these noise levels would represent a moderate to major impact on the residents
On training data provided by
the Department of State, the following levels of activity were incorporated
into the average training day noise model: Driving tracks: Assumes nearly
continuous use over the course of a day.
Mock Urban Training: Periodic
use over the course of a day. Average of eight flashbang explosions per
Explosives Ranges: Average of
12 explosives detonations per day.
Firing Ranges: Assumes nearly
continuous use over the course of a day.
Cooling Towers: Continuous use.
Explosives detonation would
have a major impact on Tuckahoe State Park…… (U)nder all scenarios, portions
of the park would be exposed to peak noise levels at or in excess of 100
dBA in the park from detonation of the CTS flashbang and the 8-ounce cast
Major: The noise generated by
the construction or operation of the project exceeds established regulatory
guidelines for residential areas, greatly impacts users’ enjoyment of Tuckahoe
State Park, or would result in substantial interference with outdoor or
indoor activities for nearby residents.
The movement of heavy trucks
transporting construction materials along area roadways could also result
in adverse noise impacts to area residences.
Vehicle use by FASTC faculty,
staff, and students would be the same for Build Alternative 1 and Build
Alternative 2. A traffic impact study indicates that these users would
add approximately 505 morning peak hour trips, 280 mid-day, and 467 PM
peak hour trips when the FASTC initially opens in 2011, and approximately
687 morning peak hour trips, 380 mid-day, and 633 evening peak hour trips
when the FASTC is completed in 2014. The traffic study also indicates that
most of the faculty, staff, and students would use Route 304 west of Ruthsburg.
If using Route 481 west of the FASTC, the traffic impact study projects
that most of these travelers would turn onto Greenville Road, thus avoid
crossing the southern end of the riparian stringer inhabited by the Delmarva
Personal comment from "Jack":
Federal Government has pulled the plug on the controversial FASTC Project
proposed for Ruthsburg. The message below speaks for itself.
Citizens standing up can make a difference. Jack
FASTC PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT
The following announcement
was released via email by Ms. Gina Gilliam of GSA (email@example.com
behalf of FASTC Project Team
at 3:05 PM, Monday, June
Subject: FASTC Project Announcement
After further analysis, the
Department of State (DoS) and General Services Administration (GSA) have
determined that the Hunt Ray/Crismer Farm in Queen Anne’s County will no
longer be considered for the proposed DoS Foreign Affairs Security Training
Center. DoS and GSA remain committed to a robust and transparent public
engagement process and value the input from the citizens of Queen Anne’s
County and the leadership of both Federal and local representatives on
behalf of the community throughout this process.
As DoS increases its workforce
and presence in unstable regions of the world, the need for a consolidated
training center for DoS' Bureau of Diplomatic Security is even more important
to ensure the safety and security of our civilian employees and partners.
DoS and GSA are actively engaged in a site selection process and look forward
to opening this essential national security facility and being good neighbors.
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