Just push them into traffic. The collision deaths would not be directly attributable to the wall of noise created by the OSW (offshore wind) project, so who would know?

Let’s focus on the monster Virginia phase 1 OSW project, even though the other ten or so East Coast projects multiply the threat. Note that if each huge OSW project kills just one whale a year, then extinction of the 300 or so remaining North Atlantic Right Whales is assured within the projects’ stated 30 year life.

Not that these 70 ton whales will be chopped up like eagles, but their bodies lying beneath the towers. Their deaths will be less obviously caused by OSW. Unlike the eagles, the “taking” of the whales will not have to be licensed, but it will still happen.

Dominion’s Construction and Operation Plan (COP) provides the necessary navigation data in Appendix S: Navigation Risk Assessment. Ironically this assessment is all about the risk to ships, not to whales.

The project creates what amounts to an intense noise wall that the whales will undoubtedly go around, either to the East or to the West. Immediately to the East lies the westernmost lane of the very busy coastal ship traffic. To the West lies the equally busy coastal barge traffic. Both are deadly.

It seems like the project was deliberately located where there is the least shipping traffic. This would make sense if it were not for the whales. As it is the project closes the low shipping corridor, which the whales undoubtedly use. Being hit by ships is the leading cause of death to the whales.

Just to be clear the noise is extreme. Earlier, I pointed to the incredibly loud noise from driving the huge monopiles, each of which supports an amazingly tall turbine tower through a hurricane. These are the world’s biggest, hence noisiest, piles. See my piece here.

I now have some data on the endless, year after year, extreme underwater noise created by the operational wind turbines once the project is built. A new study suggests that a mere 10 MW turbine creates roughly fifty percent more noise than the relevant NOAA standard says is safe for marine life.

But the Dominion COP calls for 15 MW turbines, which are clearly much noisier than the 10 MW units in the study. Moreover there are almost 200 of these monster 15 MW turbines. (Land turbines typically run just 2-3 MW.) As far as I can tell we have no idea how much louder 200 or so of these 15 MW turbines are than one 10 MW engine is. Enormously louder is a good bet.

So the existence of the huge noise wall looks incontestable. Stretching 20 miles or more across the continental shelf, blocking the twice annual whale migration. Forcing the migrating whales into heavy traffic, to be killed.

My bet is that this obvious threat to the extremely endangered North Atlantic Right Whales does not even show up in the forthcoming Environmental Impact Assessment of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). After all, BOEM like all federal agencies is operating under Biden’s executive order to do everything possible in the bogus name of preventing climate change. The incredibly stupid massive offshore wind development falls under this order. Ignore the whales.

As I see it, its whales versus offshore wind. Hopefully litigation will save the endangered whales, since federal agency action is not likely to. Stay tuned to CFACT as this drama unfolds.

Save the whales from OSW.

Author

  • David Wojick

    David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.