Making the wrong noises

Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003

-- (Credit: Ken Balcomb)A federal court in California has barred the US navy from globally installing a new high-intensity sonar system. In contravention of several federal environmental laws, the system was found to be potentially fatal to whales, porpoises and fish. The lawsuit had been filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups.

The device, known as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active sonar (or LFA), employs extremely loud but low frequency sounds to spot distant submarines. Such loud noises can be fatal for creatures that lie in the sonar path. The navy has been asked to negotiate with the litigating conservation groups and set limits on the system's use.

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