All News & Blogs
Draft environmental impact statement in works for proposed expansion of NSWC Dahlgren Division research and development activities
The electromagnetic railgun, shown here in a 2008 test,
Visit the Photo Place
By RUSTY DENNEN
The largest tenant command at the Dahlgren Navy base wants to expand activities in five program areas.
That's according to documentation for a draft environmental impact statement. The draft is currently under review by the staff of the chief of naval operations and the secretary of the Navy.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division is evaluating impacts of increasing its research and development activities in: surface ship combat systems; ordnance; chemical and biological defense; lasers and directed energy; and force level warfare, which aims to improve integration and interoperability of battle components.
"Not only do we plan to increase the number of activities annually in these key program areas, but we also need to conduct some of the tests under conditions in which we do not now normally run tests, such as at night and in bad weather," according to a fact sheet on the draft report.
A "no-action" option and two alternatives are described.
Alternative one would include some modest increases. The second, and preferred, alternative would increase overall research and testing activities by about 15 percent over 15 years.
For example, electromagnetic operations would increase from about 490 planned operations currently to 680 over 15 years under alternative two.
Electromagnetic warfare is a growing program at Dahlgren. NSWC Dahlgren Division recently began testing a prototype launcher for an electromagnetic railgun that uses a massive pulse of electricity to fire a projectile over great distances.
Laser operations would increase from 60 events over the course of a year to 145 events under the preferred alternative. The Navy is developing laser technologies for force protection and anti-terrorism use.
Chemical and biological sensor tests would rise significantly, from 55 events now to 375 events under alternative two. Among other programs, sensors are being developed for ships and other military equipment.
Use of the Potomac River Test Range, which runs from Dahlgren to more than 30 miles downriver, would increase from the current 750 hours to 890 hours under the preferred alternative. But the number of projectiles tested would remain the same at 4,700 per year.
Detonations at ordnance test areas would increase from 190 now to 230 under alternative two.
Overall noise from all operations would stay about the same under each alternative.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental impact statement after it is released sometime later this year. Then a final document will be prepared, followed by a review period and a decision.
Federal agencies are required to prepare an environmental impact statement for actions that might significantly affect the human or natural environment, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act.For updates, see: navsea.navy.mil/nswc/dahlgren/EIS/Project_Overview/Fact_Sheets.aspx
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431