Portions of DEIS plagiarized, says UOG prof
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 05:58
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick
Marianas Variety News Staff
SOME portions of the draft environmental impact statement for the Guam military buildup revealed a case of “blatant plagiarism,” according to an assistant professor at the University of Guam.
Dr. Jason Biggs, assistant professor of biology, said the discovery was “serendipitous.”
“I did not agree with that paragraph, so I wanted to look up who wrote it,” Biggs said, pointing to volume IV of the draft report that refers to the aircraft carrier berthing and the proposed dredging of Apra Harbor.
The draft study, which according to the Joint Guam Program Office cost $87 million, was written by TEC Inc., a contractor for the U.S. military.
Biggs said the Navy Coral Assessment Methodology section of the military draft report was a cut-and-paste material from the conclusion of a 2009 scientific report titled, “Coral Reef Metrics and Habitat Equivalency Analysis” by Shay Veihman, Steven M. Thur, and Gregory A. Piniak.
A representative from TEC, who requested that he be identified only as “director of administration,” admitted that the portion in question was lifted from the scientific document.
“We did not adequately give that guy attribution,” the TEC representative told Variety. “Long story short, we put the section in quotes and footnoted it further and the final version will reflect that.”
Several paragraphs pasted by TEC into the draft study were taken verbatim from the study without proper attribution. “We have made sure to make it clear that we properly give him attribution for his academic work,” the TEC representative added.
Lies and more lies
Biggs said the plagiarism makes the credibility of the draft report suspect. “When you review any scientific document, just like in a court of law, if you find one lie in it, you can not believe any of it,” he said.
“Plagiarism is sort of a lie,” Biggs said. “If they openly plagiarize right there in the first couple of paragraphs of their calculations for the global ecological impact of what they are doing, then you can not believe any of the rest of it. So, all credibility was lost as soon as they plagiarized.”
Biggs added that just as bad as the plagiarism was that the purpose of using that material in the draft report was intended to support the creation of a new habitat equivalency quantification method.
“They used it to justify creating their own method of analysis,” Biggs said, “but the basis for all economic impacts is discounted service acreage years.”
He said TEC’s analysis “has errors in that it does not calculate the age of coral correctly and does not take into account the three dimensional nature of the coral reef.”
“So, they are basically dropping the ecological value right from the get go just because their technique is not robust enough,” Biggs said. “This would work to the military’s advantage because it would save them money.”
In his comments on the draft study, Biggs stated that the new quantification method “grossly underestimates the rugosity of the inner Apra Harbor shoal system and the age classes of corals within them, and does not account for rare and endangered animals that are not directly observed at the time of the assessment.”
According to Biggs’ estimate, using a simplified ecological equivalency calculation to just what is known of the history of Apra Harbor, the expected result is a loss of approximately 2,460 DSAYs of coral habitat due to direct impacts alone, “which is over double that estimated within this [draft study].”
Biggs recommended that the Navy either proceed with the “no action alternative” or consider a re-evaluation of Kilo Wharf as the aircraft carrier berthing location and a subsequent relocation of smaller vessel munitions operations within inner Apra Harbor.