RANGELEY — People expressed mixed emotions Wednesday during the second day of a three-day meeting about the possibility of a missile interceptor base being added to the 12,000-acre U.S. Navy’s survival, evasion, resistance and escape training facility in Redington Township.

Some were dead set against the location in Maine or anywhere in the U.S., while others were open to having an interceptor base in the area.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is in the midst of conducting an environmental impact study on four potential locations for a military interceptor base. A meeting was held Aug. 5 in Ohio and meetings will be held in New York and Michigan within the next few weeks.

No decisions have been made on whether an interceptor base will be built in the future at any of the sites.

Two more meetings on the northern Franklin County site are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 14, from 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Olsen Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Stations were set up around the gym at Rangeley Lakes Regional School to show the different stages of the process, what the base would look like and why a site would be needed.

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More than 100 people attended the two meetings the past two days.

The Defense Agency is holding the public meetings as part of a nine-step process required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The act requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts of proposed actions and provide the public opportunities to comment. Once the draft study is done, it will be available for the public to read.

A public review/meetings will be held for all four potential sites before a final study is completed.

The idea, if a site is approved, would be to start with 20 ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile interceptors which are capable of destroying long-range missile threats that could travel up to 6,200 miles.

North Korea and Iran are two countries that have projected capabilities to launch long-range missiles by 2020, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dan Martin said.

“By 2020, we project that they will definitely have this capability,” he said.

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The exoatmospheric kill vehicle is a sensor/propulsion package that uses the kinetic energy from a direct hit to destroy the incoming target vehicle, the Defense Agency said. There is no explosive element used to destroy the incoming missile in space.

“This hit-to-kill technology has been proven in a number of successful flight tests, including three using ground-based interceptors,” the data stated.

The ground-based interceptor is 55 feet long, 4.2 feet in diameter and weighs 22 to 27 tons. It would be housed in a silo sleeve buried in the ground. The silo is a long steel tube, approximately 75 feet long, that would protect the interceptor from groundwater and other environmental effects.

There would be two missile fields with 10 missiles in each, with the potential to expand to 60 missiles in the future, Martin said.

Diane Soule of Oquossoc said she had mixed emotions.

“We have two children in the military,” she said. “We have some concerns. I’m concerned about the environmental impact up here because it is such a beautiful place. But we need to be safe, and someone is going to have to compromise.”

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Her husband, David DeBoer, said he is also concerned about the environmental effects, but also about the possibility of making the area a target for attacks from other countries.

“I’m concerned we could have a target on our backs, and they would want to take us out before we could respond,” DeBoer said. “This is a beautiful, remote area.”

Bruce Gagnon of Bath, a Vietnam-era veteran who is a member of Maine Veterans for Peace and works for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, said the latter organization’s primary issue is missile defense.

First of all, the U.S. is not under attack, he said. If you ask the Defense Agency who this missile defense system is designed to protect the U.S. from, they’ll say Iran and North Korea, he said.

“The truth is, today, Iran has no nuclear weapons and they have no long-range missiles capable of reaching continental United States,” Gagnon said.

North Korea does have nuclear weapons, but they have no long-range rockets capable of hitting the U.S., he said. He believes the interceptors will be used against China and Russia after the U.S. strikes those countries first.

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“The bottom line is, these systems are highly destabilizing because they are creating a new round in the arms race,” he said. “It is a new technical step up the ladder.”

Linda Tate of Eustis is against a missile interceptor base in the area.

“We don’t want this to come into our area,” she said. “What are they protecting if they ruin our way of life? It would change everything.”

“I’m brokenhearted to think that something with this large of an impact could come into our beautiful area,” said her husband, Mahlon Tate, a 30-year resident of Eustis.

On the other hand, Maine desperately needs jobs, said Randy Poulton of Winterport, who has a seasonal home in Rangeley.

“This is an opportunity that we need to seriously consider,” he said.

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It is projected that there would be 1,200 to 1,800 permanent jobs, made up of a mix of contractors, military and civilians.

“We’re here to educate ourselves and ponder all of the information going forward,” his wife, Deborah Poulton said. “It might mean something great for Maine.”

“We’re one of four sites nationally. I think (U.S. Sen.) Susan Collins deserves credit for giving us this opportunity,” Randy Poulton said.

Nancy Douglas of Rangeley said the base should be set up on a base that already contains missiles.

She said the money would be better used for something else.

It is projected that the entire cost of the project would be $3 to $4 billion.

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“I’m positive about it,” Keith Savage of Rangeley said. “I see the economic gain and obviously, the numbers stated would double the population. I grew up here, went through the military and moved back.”

The image of a missile causes concerns for people, he said.

“I don’t see it having an influence on tourism,” Savage said.

Jason Rawn of Hope said he believes most people would prefer to see “our commonwealth” be invested in anything but war. He is on the board of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

“The whole idea that these are defensive is false,” he said. “This country relies on violence, so anything that is sold as defensive is being falsely sold.”

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Two more meetings scheduled on a potential missile interceptor base being located in northern Franklin County will be held from 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Olsen Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.

People may also email written comments to [email protected] or mail them to Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp., Attn: MDA CIS, 6601 Colege Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66211-1504. All comments must be postmarked by Sept. 15.

To learn more, go to the website at www.mda.mil/about/enviro_cis.html.


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