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PG&E Seeking Approval for Seismic Testing on California’s Central Coast

September 7, 2012

PG&E Seeking Approval for Seismic Testing on California’s Central Coast

Deafening Assault Is Likely to Wipe Out Thousands of Marine Animals, Including Virtually Every Living Being in Point Buchon State Marine Reserve

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon. Photo: WikipediaAerial view of Diablo Canyon. Photo: WikipediaIn an effort to continue operating a nuclear plant that sits on known active earthquake faults, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is seeking permits to engage in seismic testing off the Central Coast of California. According to a PG&E representative at an informational meeting, “the proposal calls for a 240-foot ship to tow a quarter-mile wide array of twenty 250 decibel “air cannons,” along a 90-mile stretch of California’s Central Coast. The cannons will shoot deafening underwater explosions once every twenty seconds, day and night, for 42 days and nights.  The region where this devastating assault on wildlife is expected to take place includes the “protected” Point Buchon State Marine Reserve.

The decision occurs at a time when humpback and blue whales have appeared in shockingly large numbers off the California coast to feed on krill. The seismic testing will kill great blue whales, gray whales and others, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters, and fishes. PG&E has offered to buy-off commercial fishermen in the area to compensate for anticipated losses if the plan is allowed to go forth.

PG&E plans to produce a 3-D map of the shoreline fault’s deeper regions. Hydrophones in the water and geophones on the seafloor would collect data on the sound as it resonates through sea and earth, and the resulting data is expected to help geologists map the fault. Nothing of this scope and power has ever been done in California waters before and according to the Environmental Impact Report, the toll on marine life from this kind of testing is staggering. In regions where this sort of testing has been done, countless dead marine animals wash ashore for weeks during and after testing, blood dripping from areas such as their eyes, nose, ears or mouth — a sign they have suffered catastrophic internal hemorrhaging.

This seismic testing is expected to yield only moderate mapping results and, according to Fish and Game Commissioner Richard Rogers, would "cleanse the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve of all living marine organisms" including Sperm, Pygmy Sperm, Humpback, California Gray and Great Blue Whales, and many other species of fish and marine mammals, right down to the plankton.

According to independent journalist Dave Gurney on noyonews.net:

"Each of these underwater blasts will be at the volume level of a shock wave, that will instantly deafen, maim and possibly kill everything unfortunate enough to be in its path. A 240 dB blast is reportedly like being one foot away from the mouth of a large cannon.  For a human, your ears, or what’s left of your ears, would probably never stop ringing. The consequences of experiencing this level of sound can only be presumed to be immediate and permanent deafness – if not worse. For sea life, beyond just broken eardrums, the transfer of low-frequency shock waves from water-air-water causes hemorrhaging of lungs and air-sacks, and will result in the death of marine mammals – whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and otters – and fish."

The Natural Resources Defense Council also put out a warning stating that the loud blasts could deafen porpoises and other marine animals, which rely heavily upon their sense of hearing for survival.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant was built in 1968 at the mouth of a coastal canyon, above the then-unknown Hosgri Fault. In 2008, another previously unknown fault was discovered running along the shoreline. “Our position is that seismic testing is a threat not only to whales, but to all of us, because it allows PG&E to delay removal of the nuclear plant from the earthquake fault,” according to Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing.

The seismic testing is scheduled to run from early November to early December of this year.  Now is the time to contact California state representatives to ensure approval is denied for this ill-conceived plan.  Please check back for updates on how you can help.

Mail or FAX your concerns to the California Coastal Commission (before Sept 20th if possible but issue will be heard in Oceanside, Calif. October 10th) at:

Central Coast District Office
Dan Carl, Deputy Director
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4508
(831) 427-4863
FAX (831) 427-4877

 

California Fish and Game Commission will hold a public forum on this issue in Sacramento on September 24 at 10:00 am
1416 9th St
Sacramento, CA
California Fish and Game Website Calendar

 

Please email the Fish and Game Commission with your concerns at:
fgc@fgc.ca.gov
attn: Sonke Mastrup

 

Contact Senator Sam Blakeslee and ask him to reconsider his bill because seismic testing is too destructive to proceed at: senator.blakeslee@senate.ca.gov
Senator Sam Blakeslee
4066 State Capitol
California 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4015   Fax: (916) 445-8081

 

Call Senator Barbara Boxer at:  202 224-3553

 

Contact Congresswoman Lois Capps at:
The Honorable Lois Capps
United States House of Representatives
2231 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0523
DC Phone: (202) 225-3601
FAX: (202) 225-5632

Location of Diablo Canyon Power Plant and surrounding marine reserve areasLocation of Diablo Canyon Power Plant and surrounding marine reserve areas
Marine life in the area will be injured or killed by the seismic testing. Photo: Simon AgerMarine life in the area will be injured or killed by the seismic testing.
Photo: Simon Ager

 

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