To the Editor:
This letter is in response to a Letter to the Editor dated May 3, written by Susan Jones and Bruce Yauney (“Unrelenting noise,” May 4). They are concerned about the impact of the underwater noise that will be generated by the pile-driving of the massive monopiles for the Vineyard One project, and its effects on marine life, particularly the critically endangered right whales.
I am concerned also, so I took some time to visit the office of Vineyard Power, located at 151 Beach Road in V.H. They have an “open house” between 3 and 6 pm every Wednesday to answer any questions anyone might have. I strongly encourage concerned people to take some time to talk to them.
What I found out is that there are an extraordinary number of regulations concerning this project. But to address this one point: Severe limitations are required to protect pretty much all marine life in the area. For instance, if any marine mammal is observed within six miles of the pile-driving operation, they must stop. That’s the pile driving operation, not the animals.
The number of observation vessels is extraordinary. No pile driving can occur within one hour of sunset or one hour after sunrise (and not during the night), as observers do not have full visibility of the ocean surface due to glare caused by the angle of the sun in relation to the ocean surface. When pile-driving starts, it is done at a low level, and gradually increases to give any marine life an opportunity to leave the area. There are relatively few such regulations imposed on the activities of oil exploration, and I believe (classified information) just about none imposed on the military.
One other thing that is implemented during the pile-driving process is that the monopiles are surrounded by a “bubble curtain” (think of an aerator in a fish tank) to mitigate the sound. Indeed, just the manufacturing and implementation of this one aspect of protecting marine life is creating hundreds, if not thousands, of high-paying, clean-energy jobs.
So, to sum it up here, there are extraordinary efforts and regulations being put into place to protect the marine environment during construction and operations. Eric, who works with Vineyard Power, sent me this PDF file about the regulations. I encourage any concerned citizen to consult it (bit.ly/pile-drivingregs).
Regulations about pile-driving, protection of marine mammals, and sound mitigation can be found at section 5.7.10, etc. And thank you, Susan and Bruce, for taking the time to write your Letter to the Editor. It is imperative that we have this conservation and debate.