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Friday, July 14, 2000

Judge refuses to
reopen Navy
sonar-test case


U.S. District Judge Alan Kay has denied a Hawaii County Green Party motion to reopen a 1998 case brought against the U.S. Navy and other defendants challenging the testing of low-frequency sonar off the Big Island.

Kay also issued a second order dismissing a new case filed Feb. 29 by the same plaintiff and 10 others seeking to enjoin the Navy from making the low-frequency sonar system a permanent program.

The Hawaii County Green Party in a preliminary response to Kay's actions spoke of a possible appeal and voiced expectations the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would reverse Kay's actions on appeal.

In dismissing the new case, the judge reasoned a new case would be premature, in advance of any Navy action which could be construed as permanent.

A new case could be filed at the time it was demonstrated the Navy was taking irrevocable action, Kay said.

Kay did say it appears low-frequency sonar tests do affect marine life, noting that researchers recommend the Navy should avoid active whale breeding areas when testing.

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