Wildlife imperiled by missile defense
- By Dan Verton
- Mar 06, 2000
The Pentagon admitted this week that its plan to build a National Missile
Defense system capable of shooting incoming missiles out of the sky may
disrupt some fisheries, feeding grounds for wild animals and other portions
of the nation's ecosystem.
A draft version of an environmental impact statement was released Monday
by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. It concludes that the construction
of additional information technology infrastructure for an NMD system could
result in short- and long-term disruptions to the ecosystems surrounding
the proposed construction sites.
The Clinton administration will decide in June whether to deploy an NMD
Facilities are planned in Alaska and North Dakota to house ground-based
interceptors (GBI), battle management command and control systems, In-Flight
Interceptor Communications Data Terminals and radar terminals for tracking
The plan also calls for new fiber-optic cable lines to be buried amid wetlands
and wildlife feeding areas as well as beneath the ocean floor.
Although the Pentagon study concluded that the disruptions to surrounding
ecosystems will be minimal, there are risks.
According to the study, burying fiber-optic cables "too close to rookeries
or feeding grounds could force sea lions to move away, lowering their potential
for success." Likewise, "wetlands could potentially be affected by the project
through filling, draining, trenching and other general construction activities,"
the study states.
The areas in question provide nesting for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.
The study also warned against the excessive digging of trenches that could
cause damage to wildlife spawning habitats, erosion, alteration of natural
waterways and water quality deterioration.
National Missile Defense command and control systems and GBI locations:
Clear Air Station, AlaskaFort Greely, AlaskaYukon Training Area, AlaskaGrand
Forks, N.D.Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, N.D.