A mixed bag on OLF

Published 8:54 am Saturday, December 27, 2008

For detractors of the Navy’s plan to construct an Outlying Landing Field somewhere in the region, there was some good news this week — and some bad news.

The good news was that an engineering firm released a report blasting the Hale’s Lake site in Camden County, N.C., as “inferior” for a litany of reasons, the biggest one being that it sits on a tinder box of peat soil, and it would cost between $7 and $14 million just to haul it away.

Now here’s the bad news: The report said Hale’s Lake was inferior to sites in Virginia, basically recommending that the Navy pick one of the three sites above the state line. The report even made the suggestion that one site, Mason, was a better choice because of its proximity to highways and concrete plants.

A key player in the anti-OLF movement said Tuesday that although he was pleased that a report came out against an OLF site, he was disappointed that the Virginia sites were recommended as a better option. He contended that Camden County has the resources to defeat the OLF there, but wouldn’t think twice about “throwing Virginia under the bus” if it needed to. He added that both he and his fellow anti-OLF partisans “believe that no one should be thrown under the bus.”

We agree. But unless similar reports assailing the construction of an OLF for the same financial and environmental reasons are made as well for Virginia sites, that’s exactly what will happen.

The Hale’s Lake site does have issues that are unique to it. But that doesn’t mean the same tools that were used there couldn’t be used here.

Meanwhile, we urge the anti-OLF forces to remain vigilant. It would appear that one of the five sites being considered by the Navy is, for all practical purposes, off the table (although there has been no official announcement from the Navy to that effect). That means one of the four remaining sites could be the unlucky host to an OLF base.