FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shari Tarantino, President – Board of Directors, Orca Conservancy / (216) 630-5177
October 1, 2014
Snohomish PUD Announces: Admiralty Inlet Tidal Power Project not to advance due in part by opposition from Washington tribes, Pacific Whale Watch Association, and Conservation Groups lead by the Seattle based Orca Conservancy.
The announcement came on news that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has decided not to fund 50 percent of the project as originally planned. SnoPUD announced Tuesday that it can’t move forward without those federal dollars.
Most, however, point to a growing wave of opposition by Washington tribes, whale watch operators and conservation groups to the siting of these four massive, perilously exposed and extremely loud turbines in sensitive wildlife habitat as the reason the DOE pulled the funding.
“We’ve said from the beginning there clearly wasn’t enough information about the effects that these experimental turbines would have on wildlife,” explains Orca Conservancy’s President Shari Tarantino. “And, with 79 Southern Resident Killer Whales left, that just wasn’t a gamble we were willing to take.”
The Snohomish PUD, by its own admission, hoped to place these turbines squarely in the path of orcas and 12 other federally protected species listed under the ESA. Other possible sites were explored, but the Admiralty Inlet location was chosen primarily to save money in installing, maintaining and, in the event of approaching whales, manually braking the turbines to avoid injuries. The PUD estimates the time between a report of incoming wildlife and a diver-initiated shutdown of the blades at approximately five hours. Orcas are the fastest marine mammals on the planet, capable of speeds of about 35 miles per hour.
The turbines not only posed a threat to any creature coming into contact with them, they’re also dangerously loud. SnoPUD admits that the blades would have produced noise source levels up to 180dBs, and that research has shown that killer whales react strongly to a received level of 135dBs – the pain threshold.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” continued Tarantino. “It’s a victory – and we’ll take it – especially for this endangered population.”