U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Homeland Defense Radar - Hawaii


FAQs


Program Questions

Q. Wasn’t funding for Homeland Defense Radar – Hawai’i (HDR-H) cancelled in the out years? In light of this, why are you moving forward with the Environmental Impact Statement?
A. In February 2020 the Department of Defense (DoD) postponed development and fielding of HDR-H. However, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 authorizes MDA to continue Homeland Defense Radar - Hawaii (HDR-H) radar development and siting efforts. The FY 2021 Appropriation bill provided funding to continue these efforts in FY 2021. Therefore, MDA is engaged in Advanced Planning studies and preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the siting and development of the HDR-H, should a deployment decision be made and is funded.

Q. What is HDR-H and what is the purpose of it?
A. The HDR-H is a discrimination radar that will improve homeland missile defense for the defense of Hawai’i. The radar will provide midcourse Missile Defense System discrimination to support homeland defense.

Q. What site locations are you considering?
A. MDA conducted a siting study evaluating 46 DoD owned sites on the islands of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Three sites were originally selected for inclusion in the EIS process. These three sites included Kuaokalā Ridge adjacent to U.S. Air Force Ka’ena Point Satellite Tracking Station (KPSTS) on O‘ahu, and two sites at the U.S. Army’s Kahuku Training Area Site 1 (KTA-1), and Site 2 (KTA-2), also on O‘ahu. Kuaokalā Ridge and KTA-2 have subsequently been removed from further consideration. In August 2020, MDA confirmed the viability of fielding the HDR-H on DoD property at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kaua’i. The EIS will include KTA-1 and PMRF as alternatives, and a No Action Alternative for the HDR-H.

Q. Why did you remove KTA- 2 from consideration?
A. MDA completed a siting study for the HDR-H in January 2019. The KTA-2, identified as a reasonable alternative in the siting study, was removed from further consideration as a potential site for the HDR-H due to schedule, cost, and service impacts. Retaining KTA-2 as an alternative in the HDR-H EIS would extend the Final EIS and Record of Decision by at least one year. Consequently, MDA no longer considers KTA-2 to be a reasonable alternative for deployment of the HDR-H.

Q. Why did you remove Kuaokala Ridge from consideration?
A. MDA determined the Kuaokalā Ridge Site, adjacent to the Air Force’s KPSTS, should be eliminated from consideration as an Alternative in the HDR-H EIS due to several factors related to constructability, land acquisition (siting) and environmental concerns. Portions of the Kuaokalā site are located on State of Hawai’i Game Management Area lands and would require a long-term lease. The schedule uncertainty for obtaining a long-term lease did not meet the requirements for completing the HDR-H when needed. Additionally, the extreme topography at the site presented constructability challenges imposing further schedule risk.

Q. Why did you add PMRF to the siting study?
A. In October 2019, MDA revisited the viability of fielding the HDR-H on DoD property at the PMRF on Kaua’i, Hawai’i. In January 2020, MDA, in collaboration with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and PMRF, initiated additional siting studies at PMRF. Analysis indicated at least one location, PMRF Site #4, would be appropriate for deployment of HDR-H with the required technical mitigations to protect PMRF’s test and training missions. In August 2020, MDA made a viability determination for siting of HDR-H at PMRF Site #4. This site is included in the HDR-H EIS.

Q. Is Hawai’i currently protected from Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) threats and if so, how?
A. Yes, Hawai’i is currently protected from ICBM threats by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system. This system includes 44 Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) in Alaska and California with ground-, sea- and space-based sensors and redundant command, control and communications systems. The HDR-H would enhance the defense capability of the U.S. inventory of GBIs to counter evolving missile threats in the defense of Hawai’i.

Safety Questions

Q. Is the radar safe or are there any public health concerns we should be made aware of?
A. The radar is safe to operate and there are no public health concerns associated with its operations. The HDR-H will produce radio frequency (RF) non-ionizing radiation, the same type of energy produced from cell phone towers, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth accessories. This radar is designed to track and discriminate objects in space, with energy directed above the horizon. A “Keep Out Zone” in front of the radar face will be enforced within the secured perimeter of the facility to ensure the safety of personnel on the ground. Beyond this distance, energy emission is below threshold levels deemed safe by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards.

Q. How does the radar affect the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and commercial flights to and from the island?
A. Should the Department and Congress authorize and fund the deployment, MDA will continue to work with the FAA to field the radar while protecting navigable airspace. Flight paths are being closely examined as we move forward in preparing the EIS and they will be taken into consideration as a part of the impact analysis. MDA is in close consultation with the FAA and we expect to have more information to share with the public about potential impacts to flight paths once the Draft EIS is ready for public review.

Q. What effect will the radar have on wildlife (endangered bird species)?
A. The HDR-H will produce (RF) non-ionizing radiation, the same type of energy produced from cell phone towers, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth accessories. Given certain conditions, RF might affect organisms through effects caused by heating of tissues (i.e., thermal effects). The radar would operate, for most instances, in search mode, where the main beam is not dwelling on any area in space for more than a fraction of a second. Due to the flight characteristics of bird species and the radar operations, the radar’s operation is not anticipated to have a significant adverse effect on endangered species. However, we will work closely with natural resources specialists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure appropriate impact analysis is conducted and any mitigations are implemented as necessary to further minimize impacts.

EIS Questions

Q. When will the EIS be completed?
A. A Draft EIS is planned for spring 2022 and will be made available for public review and comment. If the HDR-H project budget is restored, the EIS could be completed in the early 2023.

Q. Will we have a chance to provide comments on the project?
A. Yes. Comments can be submitted during this scoping public comment period. Also, opportunities to provide comments will be available when the Draft EIS is made available to the public in spring 2022. Please check the MDA website (https://www.mda.mil/hdrh) for the latest updates on the project including the EIS status, consultations, and reference documentation.

Q. Will there be a meeting where we can express our opinions?
A. Due to federal and state guidance and measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, MDA will not hold in-person public scoping meetings. However, MDA will conduct an Online Scoping Open House and two telephonic meetings where written and verbal comments may be provided. Please visit www.mda.mil/hdrh for details. Unless prevented by COVID-19 concerns, MDA does plan for an in-person public meetings with the release of the Draft EIS in spring 2022.

Q. How much noise does the radar make when it is deployed?
A. The radar itself does not make noise. Noise emitters associated with the site include building exhaust systems, chillers, cooling condensers, and back-up power generators. During normal operations, the backup generators will be offline. Preliminary analysis indicate the noise emitters would be barely audible at the HDR-H site boundary.

Q. Will the radar affect marine life?
A. No effects to marine life are anticipated as a result of HDR-H construction and operations. This radar is designed to track and discriminate objects in space, with energy directed above the horizon. Marine resources will be considered in the environmental impact analyses and project construction and operations plans would incorporate any necessary measures to avoid potential impacts to marine life.

Q. A fuel depot was shown as part of the campus. How much fuel will be stored at the facility?
A. At this time, the bulk fuel storage would consist of eight 25,000-gallon above ground storage tanks.

Q. What kind of waste product will there be?
A. Site preparation and facility construction will generate demolition wastes that cannot be recycled or reclaimed, such as spent light ballasts and certain demolition debris. Small quantities of used petroleum, oils, and lubricants associated with heavy equipment could also be generated during construction. All construction waste would be disposed of in accordance with established federal and state laws and regulations. Prior to facility start-up, a rust inhibitor would be used to flush the newly-constructed cooling system. During facility operations, waste products would include compressed gases, oils and lubricants, solvents, batteries (lead acid, lithium, nickel-cadmium), paints, sealants, pesticides, solid waste, and used coolant. All wastes would be collected, temporarily stored, and disposed of or recycled in accordance with established installation, federal, and state regulations and procedures.

Jobs/Community Benefits

Q. What are the benefits of the radar or from MDA to the local community?
A. A full socioeconomics analysis has not been completed yet, but will be included in the EIS. It is anticipated economic benefits would occur in the areas of direct and indirect employment and sales tax revenue. The local community, and all of the Hawaiian Islands, will benefit from the added HDR-H radar defense capability and enhanced protection against evolving threats

Q. How many employees are needed for construction?
A. Construction of the HDR-H facilities is anticipated to take 3 to 5 years to complete. Construction requirements would average 200 to 300 skilled and unskilled workers onsite with a maximum of 410 during peak construction activities. When fully operational, the HDR-H total onsite employment would add up to approximately 130 military and contractor support, maintenance, firefighting, and security personnel. A full socioeconomics analysis has not been completed yet, but will be included in the EIS. It is anticipated economic benefits would occur in the areas of direct and indirect employment and sales tax revenue.

Q. Will you use locals or people from off-island?
A. We expect both local and off-island employees will be needed to meet the project skill sets and construction schedule demand.

Q. If off-island workers are needed, where will they live?
A. Both a temporary work camp and on-island housing for construction workers are being considered and evaluated. If the on-island housing option is selected, then housing for off-island construction workers would be up to their employers. It is expected they would rent or lease on-island accommodations, either weekly with travel to and from the island on the weekends or for the duration of their portion of the project.

Q. What jobs will there be after construction?
A. When fully operational, the HDR‐H total onsite employment would add up to approximately 130 military and contractor support, maintenance, firefighting, and security personnel.

Q. Are there other local jobs that might come before the construction effort?
A. It is possible there may be some local jobs before construction begins. We will take into consideration any suggestions from the community.

PMRF Specific

Q. Will the HDR-H impact Na Pali coastline tours (helicopters and zodiac boat operators) or beachgoers at Polihale State Park?
A. Beachgoers and boaters will not be affected by radar operations. This radar is designed to track and discriminate objects in space, with energy directed above the horizon. A “Keep Out Zone” in front of the radar face will be enforced within the secured perimeter of the facility to ensure the safety of personnel on the ground. Beyond this distance, energy emission is below threshold levels deemed safe by IEEE standards. The HDR-H security perimeter at this proposed site will not extend onto any part of the shoreline along PMRF or on any public property. Tour helicopters may be impacted. MDA is working with the FAA to design Special Use Airspace that will extend the current restricted Airspace surrounding PMRF in order to ensure the safety of aircraft in vicinity of the radar. At this time, impacts to aviation are not known, but information will be provided as it becomes available.

Q. Will the PV farm, landfill, or shrimp farms be affected by radiation?
A. The PV farm, landfill, and shrimp farms are not expected to be impacted from operation of the radar. See above radiation response. Beyond the “Keep Out Zone” in front of the radar face, energy emission is below threshold levels deemed safe by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards.

Q. Are there cultural impacts at PMRF?
A. Cultural and historical resource surveys are being conducted to ensure potential cultural locations are identified and avoided to the extent possible. MDA along with PMRF will initiate Consultations under the National Historic Preservation Act to identify, assess, and develop a plan to manage any cultural resources that may be identified.

Q. What effect will radar have on wildlife (endangered bird species)?
A. The HDR-H will produce RF non-ionizing radiation, the same type of energy produced from cell phone towers, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth accessories. Given certain conditions, RF might affect organisms through effects caused by heating of tissues (i.e., thermal effects). The radar would operate, for most instances, in search mode, where the main beam is not dwelling on any area in space for more than a fraction of a second. Due to the flight characteristics of bird species and the radar operations, the radar’s operation is not anticipated to have a significant adverse effect on endangered species. However, we will work closely with PMRF natural resources specialists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure appropriate impact analysis is conducted and any mitigations are implemented as necessary to further minimize impacts.

Q. Will this affect any gate operations?
A. As part of our advanced planning efforts, we are reviewing where the construction traffic could enter PMRF. At this time, we do not anticipate impacts to the Base operations. If there are impacts during construction, measures could be incorporated into a traffic management plan to minimize the transportation impacts such as staggered work shifts and scheduling oversized loads to avoid peak-hour traffic.

KTA Site 1 Specific

Q. What will the effects be on the bats located in the Kahuku area? How will the radar emissions affect them?
A. The HDR-H will produce RF non-ionizing radiation, the same type of energy produced from cell phone towers, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth accessories. Given certain conditions, RF might affect organisms through effects caused by heating of tissues (i.e., thermal effects). The radar would operate, for most instances, in search mode, where the main beam is not dwelling on any area in space for more than a fraction of a second. Due to the flight characteristics of bat and bird species and the radar’s operational characteristics, the radar is not anticipated to have a significant adverse effect on endangered species. However, we will work closely with natural resources specialists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure appropriate impact analysis is conducted and any mitigations are implemented as necessary to further minimize impacts.

Q. What will be the level of electromagnetic radiation in our Sunset Beach neighborhoods and beaches along Kamehameha Highway?
A. The radar is safe to operate and there are no public health concerns associated with its operations. The HDR-H will produce RF non-ionizing radiation, the same type of energy produced from cell phone towers, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth accessories. This radar is designed to track and discriminate objects in space, with energy directed above the horizon. A “Keep Out Zone” directly in front of the radar face will be enforced within the secured perimeter of the facility to ensure the safety of personnel on the ground. Beyond this distance, energy emission is below threshold levels deemed safe by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards. The HDR-H security perimeter at this proposed site will not extend beyond DoD land or onto any part of the shoreline. Local neighborhoods, beachgoers, and boaters will not be affected.

Q. Comsat Road is currently used as a tsunami evacuation route. Will the public still have access?
A. MDA has no plan to use Comsat Road. There should be no change to public access due to emergencies such as tsunamis.

Q. Will the public still have access on weekends to the motor cross trails within the KTA?
A. The proposed HDR-H location at KTA-1 is not proposed to be located on lands currently used by the motocross and access to the motor cross area is granted only on weekends and holidays when the military is not operating in the area. While, it is not anticipated that MDA would need to restrict access, the possibility does exist during the peak construction season for safety reasons.

Q. With the heavy traffic load already on Kamehameha Highway, was Drum Road considered as an alternate way to reach the KTA-1?
A. Yes, Drum Road was examined as an alternative route. While portions of the road are paved, the roadway is no longer maintained and contains multiple washouts, spring crossings, and rock fall hazards. The 25-mile winding roadway would require extensive modifications, including widening, resurfacing/paving, slope stabilization, and adequate drainage establishment for the entire length.

Q. Kamehameha Highway currently experiences heavy traffic volumes. Are improvements to the roadway being considered for this project? What is being considered to mitigate the impact during construction?
A. A full traffic impact analysis has not been completed yet, but will be included in the EIS. However, no permanent improvements or changes to Kamehameha Highway are anticipated. Only temporary changes would be necessary during the construction period to reduce adverse impacts.

Q. How tall is the radar and will we see it from the roadway and North Shore beaches?
A. The radar at the HDR-H facility is anticipated to be up to 85 feet tall. The initial viewshed analysis, has determined a portion of the radar could potentially be seen from some of the North Shore coastline from Pūpūkea to Kawela Bay, including all or portions of beach parks along the shoreline (e.g., Pūpūkea, 'Ehukai, Waialeʻe, and Kawela Bay Beach Parks and Sunset Beach Park), nearshore waters, and Kamehameha Highway, unless blocked by vegetation located near the viewer.

Q. Will there be connections to the wind turbines for energy? What kind of power are you planning to use for this radar?
A. No, there will not be connections to wind turbines for energy. Commercial electrical power is immediately available at the KTA-1 project area from an existing 46 kV overhead line that crosses through the northern end of KTA. A backup power plant will be constructed as part of the Proposed Action.