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Court Blocks Navy Sonar Off California Coast


Aired 4/19/09

A federal court is blocking the U.S. Navy's planned sonar testing off the Southern California Coast.  A judge says the testing may harm the environment and marine mammals. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

A federal judge in Los Angeles issued a preliminary injunction keeping the U.S. Navy from using mid-frequency active sonar through 2009. The Navy planned to start practicing with the sonar next month in waters off Southern California. Natural Resources Defense Council Attorney Joel Reynolds says the goal is not to prevent the Navy from testing and training but to protect marine life, such as endangered blue whales.

Reynolds: The problem is that the Navy continues to fail adequately to plan in its planning for these exercises to ensure compliance with our environmental laws."

He says the Navy could use larger safety zones to protect marine mammals close to sonar ships and avoid key whale habitat and migratory routes. Scientists say the sonar generates dangerous levels of noise pollution for marine mammals. The Navy says the mid-frequency active sonar program requires realistic and frequent training at sea.

Ed Joyce, KPBS

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