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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2010

NSWC Panama City Environmental Record of Decision Signed

By Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Public Affairs Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division

The Navy published a Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) Jan. 25 for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Mission Activities Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS). 

The ROD was prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act and Executive Order 12114 and will be published in the Federal Register. 

The National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) published the NSWC PCD Final Rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Jan. 21. A Letter of Authorization (LOA) under MMPA and an Annual Biological Opinion under the Endangered Species Act were signed by NOAA. These actions complete the process of demonstrating environmental compliance for NSWC PCD range at-sea activities.

NSWC PCD released the Final EIS/OEIS in September 2009. 

"The proposed action allows NSWC PCD to support the Navy to meet its mission to deploy worldwide naval forces equipped and trained to meet existing and emergent threats and to enhance its ability to operate jointly with other components of the armed forces," said Capt. Thomas Brovarone, NSWC PCD commander.

The EIS/OEIS analyzed the potential environmental effects associated with littoral and expeditionary maneuver warfare activities for the NSWC PCD Study Area, Warning Area W-151 (which includes the Panama City Operating Area), Warning Area W-155 (which includes the Pensacola Operating Area), Warning Area W-470 and St. Andrew Bay.

"Being a good steward of the environment, both in Bay County, Fla., and beyond, is both a key environmental program goal and a serious commitment at NSWC PCD," said Carmen Ferrer, environmental manager for NSWC PCD. "NSWC PCD's activities involve a variety of naval assets, including vessels, aircraft and underwater systems, which support eight primary RDT&E (research, development, test and evaluation) capabilities. These include air, surface and subsurface operations, sonar, laser, electromagnetic, live ordnance and projectile firing operations."

NSWC PCD's activities occur either on or over the waters present within the NSWC PCD study area. 

"The Gulf of Mexico provides a surrogate environment for most of the littoral areas of the world in which the Navy will find itself operating for the foreseeable future. Specifically, the test area is ideally suited for year-round testing, with a wide coastal shelf, optimal water temperatures, sandy bottoms, good underwater visibility, and sea states typically less than three feet," said Delbert Summey, NSWC PCD technical director. 

To read the 2009 NSWC PCD EIS/OEIS, visit www.navsea.navy.mil/nswc/panamacity/docs/NSWC%20PCD%20Final%20EIS%20Main.pdf.