C.O.A.S.T Alliance Formed to Fight PG&E Central Coast Seismic Test

Citizens Opposing Acoustic Seismic Testing

UPDATE: C.O.A.S.T RALLY. Newly-formed C.O.A.S.T (Citizens Opposing Acoustic Seismic Testing) is launching a “Land and Sea Rally” in Morro Bay during the Harbor Festival, Saturday, October 6 at 2 p.m. Rally participants convene at 1:30 p.m. at the public launch ramp and parking lot at south end of the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. The “flotilla” will be comprised, according to C.O.A.S.T spokesperson Mandy Davis, of “anything that floats and moves with you on or in it.” The group joins for a walk from the south end of the Embarcadero to the North T-Pier at the Harbor Festival site. Land and sea groups will meet there for a short rally and public announcement. Floatables must be on the water by 2 p.m. at the latest, say event organizers. C.O.A.S.T encourages participants to wear C.O.A.S.T or environmental t-shirts, critter costumes, or carry or wear “no seismic testing” signs or buttons. The rally aims to draw attention to PG&E’s upcoming Central Coast 3D high-energy seismic test, “the threat of acoustic testing in our oceans” and ending such testing “both now and in the future.”

Backed by broad local and regional support, the C.O.A.S.T Alliance has formed in Morro Bay, California, in opposition to Pacific Gas & Electric’s Central Coast Seismic Imaging Project to survey the fault lines around and under the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach, set to start November 1.

According to the group’s mission statement, “The C.O.A.S.T (Citizens Opposing Acoustic Seismic Testing) Alliance, a diverse coalition of individuals, associations and government and non-government organizations is unified in the goal of ending any efforts to permit and undergo high-intensity acoustic seismic testing by PG&E in the regions surrounding the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the central coast of California.”

The C.O.A.S.T position statement explains: “In recognition of the significant biological impacts and the resulting negative impacts to our coastal economy, C.O.A.S.T seeks a cessation to all preparations for offshore acoustic testing now in progress and an end to all plans to engage in high-intensity acoustic testing as means for seismic mapping. The Alliance further recognizes that testing new faults is not mandated in AB 1632 and that the only legal mandate is to review and assess existing studies and thereby makes the proposed testing superfluous and not a legal requisite to adhere to the legislation.

“We insist that the permitting process cease in accordance with the fact that an issuance of the permit would not comply with the Coastal Act, Chapter 3, and would be in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the California MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act), and the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act, as well as several established international marine conservation laws.

“Further, we insist that the permitting agencies follow the precautionary principle as it relates to biological communities and recognize their responsibility to the human communities involved and to the devastation that the acoustic seismic testing would wreak on the economy of the Central Coast. We understand and agree that mitigation of said impacts by PG&E is an unacceptable option and cannot be construed as a responsible solution to the impacts of high- intensity acoustic seismic testing both now and in the future.”

“The unprecedented formation of a unified coalition — the C.O.A.S.T. Alliance — to fight the proposed acoustic seismic testing that PG&E is attempting to permit is a statement in and of itself,” said Mandy Davis, a respected area naturalist and co-spokesperson for C.O.A.S.T. “The fact that such a diverse group of people, with differing backgrounds and positions on past issues can band together to end the potentially horrendous biological impacts of such testing is a testament to the irrefutability of the facts involved and the significance of the resulting negative ramifications for our coastal communities’ economies.”

Said Mark Tognazzini, a commercial fisherman for 44 years – born and raised in Morro Bay, a member of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization and co-spokesperson for C.O.A.S.T: “This coalition will help everyone, including fishermen, any kind of user group whether you are a consumptive user or just a sightseer or birdwatcher. It’s going to help every user group that’s going to be impacted by this test, and that’s anybody who enjoys the oceans. So, anybody, whether you like looking at the ocean or you like catching something out of it, is going to be impacted.”

Added Mr. Tognazzini: “The public might not have a concept of what 250 decibels, times 18, every 15 seconds is going to do to the oceans. Just the larvae killed, the zoe plankton killed in the upper reaches of the ocean, the displacement of fish, the displacement of mammals. The mammals are going to get pushed into smaller areas where they might be more impacted by fishermen because we’re all going to be in a smaller area trying to make a living, the mammals as well as us.”

“The project EIR clearly states that the biological impacts would be ‘significant’ with hearing loss and mortality an assurance from the smallest of larval forms to the largest of all marine mammals, the Blue Whale,” Ms. Davis states. “Yet within that same EIR the staff states that the impacts are ‘unavoidable.’ The impacts to our community, both biological and economic ARE avoidable.”

Concludes Ms. Davis: “It’s really quite simple. The Department of Fish & Game should not set a very destructive precedent by issuing a permit for ‘take’ within an established MPA. The Coastal Commission should adhere to the Coastal Act and the biological precautionary principle. NOAA should recognize their mandate to uphold and enforce the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act. All agencies involved should refrain from buying into the fear-based hogwash that this test is going to assure the citizens of a safer power plant and help folks sleep better at night. Last but not least, PG&E, in accordance with AB 1632, should withdraw their permit request for high-intensity acoustic seismic testing, assess and review the current studies already on the table, and act responsibly with the public interest and the viability of the oceans as their priorities.”

Mr. Tognazzini believes it’s important for the average citizen to know what’s going on off the Central Coast. “It’s far-reaching. We’re a community. It’s not just the fishermen that are being impacted.

“For me, personally, as a commercial fisherman for 44 years, it’s my right to make a livelihood,” Mr. Tognazzin told The ROCK. “As a businessman who owns a restaurant and a fish market that’s dedicated to local fish by local fisherman, the impacts that I’ll suffer in my fish market and restaurant are going to be three or four fold. We really do local here, and so when you take the local fishermen with the local catch out of the picture for a month or two, that’s very serious.

“The coalition is a great concept,” he said. “We have across the board such diverse backgrounds. That’s the beauty of it. We often actually sit at different sides of the table, on the different sides of the issues, but here’s an issue where you’ve got consumptive users as well as preservationists all coming together saying, really, this test is not going to be good for anyone.”

C.O.A.S.T representatives will be attending the California Fish & Game Commission hearing in Sacramento on Monday, October 3 and 4, and the California Coastal Commission hearing in Oceanside on October 10-12.

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U.S. Geological Survey Seismologist ‘Not Expecting Anything Strikingly New’ from $64M PG&E Central Coast Seismic Test

U.S. Geological Survey

PG&E’s $64-million ratepayer-funded Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project may yield some interesting geologic images, but according to a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist the controversial high-energy seismic test will likely be used to update computer models of the earthquake fault system around and under the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach, rather than to upgrade the plant itself.

Updating computer models may prove to be the sole benefit of the test to public safety at Diablo Canyon; public safety was the overriding consideration deployed by PG&E and permitting agencies to expedite the permitting process without adequate review of the test’s real consequences and ultimate costs. In addition to the manner that test results will actually be applied, the test, according to a second U.S. Geophysical Survey seismologist, is not likely to reveal critical new data such as fault length, rate of slippage or past frequency of eruptions.

“We do have a pretty good idea where the faults are from ‘low energy’ seismic imaging, locations of small earthquakes, and gravity and magnetic studies,” Jeanne Hardebeck, research seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, told The ROCK. “The new studies, if successful, could add some new information that could refine our models of where the faults are and how they connect, but we’re not expecting anything strikingly new.”

The USGS is not participating in the upcoming PG&E survey, which begins off the Central Coast on November 1 and runs through the end of the year. A seismic review is state-mandated following Assembly Bill AB 1632, and the USGS is a federal agency.

Ms. Hardebeck, who is credited with recognizing the discovery of the Shoreline Fault in 2008 using PG&E and USGS data, remarked in the San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate last July that it was logical to assume that the Hosgri and Shoreline faults are connected and could place a magnitude 7.2 earthquake close to the plant.

“With the data I’m looking at, it actually doesn’t make sense to think of these faults as not connecting to each other,” Ms. Hardebeck said. “An interpretation that says they don’t connect doesn’t seem to fit with the observations that we have.”

Ms. Hardebeck points out that a magnitude 7.2 quake on the combined faults would cause greater ground-shaking at the nuclear plant than a magnitude 7.5 quake 3 miles offshore on the Hosgri Fault acting alone.
However, if the faults act together with others in the region, which is what some scientists suspect, it could produce an earthquake more powerful than the plant was originally built to withstand.

In the same July 2011 Chronicle article, U.S. Geological Survey scientist Sam Johnson described whether the fault lines are actually longer than previously known – and “there could be one long rupture” – as a “hot-potato issue” in seismology circles. PG&E’s 3D high-energy test encompasses 540 square miles off the Central Coast, yet does not take into account the actual length of the fault lines, data that PG&E and USGS have collected through the California Seafloor Mapping Program.

One USGS scenario shows the Hosgri Fault extending 250 miles from Point Conception to Bolinas, just beyond San Francisco, 145 miles longer than its officially published length of 105 miles. The longer the length of the Hosgri, according to Mr. Johnson, the more likely it could connect with other faults to the north of the plant to produce “close to an 8.0” earthquake. Diablo Canyon was constructed to withstand ground-shaking from a 7.5 earthquake on the Hosgri, three miles off shore. This scenario might elevate concerns.

State Senator Sam Blakeslee, who has a doctorate in seismic studies and authored AB 1632 requiring a seismological review of fault lines prior to the relicensing of Diablo Canyon.”If it’s reasonable to infer that a much larger earthquake could occur but the studies come back inconclusive,” he said last year, “the NRC has one of two choices: to plan as though it could or to ignore that possibility because it couldn’t be proven.”

Apparently fully aware of high-energy seismic test impacts that threaten the existence of Central Coast marine life and local economics based around the environment, sea life and fishing, Blakeslee’s two options were at the time: plan for a “much larger earthquake” or “ignore it.” Both “choices” could and should have been addressed prior to and without a costly, unnecessary test that causes damages likely to approach or exceed the final cost of the test.

At the same time, the unpredictability of large magnitude earthquakes and Diablo Canyon’s location on a bluff and proximity to fault lines will not make the plant any safer as a result of the test than it was before the test, before an unprecedented high-decibel sonic assault is unleashed on any and all sea life every day, 250 decibels every 15 seconds for two months. According to National Resources Defense Council research: “Sound travels outward so widely as to significantly raise noise levels literally thousands of miles away.”

In a September 18 response to any inquiry from Los Osos activist Al Barrow regarding a “less destructive methodology” than high-energy, Ms. Hardebeck wrote about alternative testing options. “Seismic surveys are only one of many ways to image faults,” she wrote. “GPS data doesn’t tell us where faults are, but it can tell us how fast they are moving, and therefore how often they have large earthquakes.”

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San Francisco Chronicle link: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/PG-E-USGS-disagree-on-Diablo-Canyon-fault-danger-2354326.php

Environmental Groups Line Up to Oppose PG&E's Seismic Testing

The ROCK presents a list of position statements from environmental groups and organizations that oppose PG&E’s controversial offshore California Central Coast 3D seismic test:

MOTHERS FOR PEACE

 

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace supports gathering seismic information about the earthquake faults near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster and PG&E’s application to renew the licenses, seismic studies must be done to learn more about the potential dangers posed by earthquake faults to the two nuclear reactors and the tremendous amount of high-level radioactive waste that has accumulated on site over the past 28 years.

The current proposed plans for seismic studies offshore and near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant were set in motion by AB 1632, an act of the California State Legislature. AB1632 is being implemented by the California Public Utilities Commission. At present, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) plans to conduct these studies from November – December 2012, with the possibility of the tests being divided into two parts in successive years at the recommendation of the California State Lands Commission. Mothers for Peace asserts that there are additional faults that also need further study in order to determine whether they might lead to more severe consequences than either the Hosgri or Shoreline Fault. These faults include the Diablo Cove Fault, which runs directly under the Unit 1 reactor, the San Luis Bay Fault, and the Los Osos Fault.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace shares the concerns of many local citizens and organizations about the extensive harm that will be inflicted on marine life if these studies are carried out as currently designed. PG&E’s plans rely largely on extremely loud underwater air guns, which are acknowledged by all parties tobe highly disruptive to the ocean environment. Mothers for Peace urges extreme caution in the method used to obtain data about the faults in the 530 square nautical miles of the proposed testing area.

Because of grave and valid concerns voiced by the fishing and environmental communities, Mothers for Peace advocates that the seismic testing be delayed to allow time to thoroughly explore other technologies less harmful to marine life, and baseline studies of marine life must be completed and analyzed before any testing begins.

Because there is no plan for storing the radioactive wastes for the 250,000 years they will remain lethal; because Homeland Security classifies all nuclear facilities as targets of terrorism; and because of the 13 earthquake faults inthe area around Diablo Canyon, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace for decades has recommended that the plant be shut down and all stored radioactive wastetransferred to hardened casks as soon as possible.

SURFRIDER FOUNDATION


Download their position statement here.

The Surfrider Foundation strongly opposes Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) plan to conduct seismic testing off the Central Coast because it will have major impacts to marine life and may expose ocean users to harmful noise levels. Surfrider questions the overall value of the project especially considering PG&E has failed to review existing onshore and offshore data to determine geologic hazards.

Impacts to Ocean Ecosystems

Seismic testing will significantly impact ocean ecosystems. Imagine a bomb exploding every 15 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks on end! Massive sound blasts can either damage or kill marine wildlife including whales, dolphins, sea otters, turtles and other sensitive species. Gray whales will be migrating through the area in December.

Surfrider is also concerned about broader impacts to the newly developed network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA). The State of California spent nearly a decade working to establish MPA and seismic testing will greatly interfere with MPA productivity.

Impacts to Recreation

Surfrider is equally concerned about potential impacts to ocean users. The Central Coast area between Cayucos and Oceano is very popular for ocean recreation. PG&E’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) states seismic testing can impact humans:

“The proposed offshore activities would expose persons present in the water to harmful noise levels…”

“Studies have shown that high levels of underwater noise can cause dizziness, hearing damage, or other sensitive organ damage to divers and swimmers, as well as indirect injury due to startle responses”

“Noise levels in excess of 154 dB re 1 μPa could be considered potentially harmful to recreational divers and swimmers in the Project area”

A map recently obtained from PG&E shows that dB levels could reach upward of 160 at some beaches. This is well over the threshold for human safety. Surfrider is troubled by PG&E’s apparent disregard for the health and safety of ocean users.

Project is Unnecessary

There are decades of data that have not been used and analyzed to determine geological hazards and faults in the area. Several entities including PG&E, USGS, and the oil industry have already conducted seismic testing in the area. A former PG&E geologist and current USGS geologist concur that the proposed new surveys offers little prospect for any result beyond marginal improvement to what is already known. Further, new information is unlikely to change the worst case scenarios already being used to plan for geologic hazards.

GREENPEACE

 

The blue whales, humpback whales, sea otters, dolphins and porpoises living off of California’s central coast are at serious risk of coming under attack from deadly seismic testing.

An energy company called Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is trying to get approval to continue operating a dangerous nuclear power plant that sits at the intersection of multiple earthquake fault lines. It is hoping a map of the Shoreline Fault’s deeper regions will help with the approval process.

The testing proposal calls for powerful air cannons to shoot deafening underwater explosions every 13 seconds for 42 straight days to create a map of the sea floor in an area that California has set aside as a marine reserve. According to one local official, the testing would “cleanse the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve of all living marine organisms.” We can’t let that happen.

There’s a public forum happening on Monday to discuss this issue. Greenpeace will be there and we want you to join us. Help us collect 40,000 messages of support from around the country for protecting all these amazing marine creatures by taking action today.

Tell the California Fish and Game Commission to block PG&E’s reckless seismic testing plan and to protect the blue whales, humpback whales and other creatures that call the Pacific coast of the United States home.

We know the horrible effects this kind of testing has on marine life. It’s been done before. Each underwater blast will be at a volume level that will instantly deafen and possibly kill everything unfortunate enough to be in its path in the most barbaric way imaginable.

PG&E knows what this testing will do. The company has already offered compensation to local fishermen who rely on the area for their livelihood. But the impacts of this testing would go on for years and its impossible to put a pricetag on the loss of a species like the blue whale.

Humpback and blue whales have actually just begun appearing in amazing, pre-hunting numbers in the area to feed on krill for the winter. We’ve been waiting decades for this. These whales and other marine life don’t need to die so that an energy company can profit by continuing to operate a dangerous nuclear power plant on top of earthquake fault lines.

Al, this is your chance to speak out against PG&E’s crazy plan. Make your voice heard and take action today to save the marine life off the coast of central California from deadly seismic testing.

BARBARENO CHUMASH COUNCIL OF SANTA BARBARA

The territorial, cultural, and religious rights of the Chumash Nation are being challenged and undermined in insidious ways by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant establishment. The Chumash Nation has an inherit right and International Right, to determine what is beneficial, safe and unendangered of our future generations of all life whom thrive on our lands and waters from Morro Bay to Santa Monica Bay. This Right and responsibility has been given to us by the creator since time immemorial.

Our Barbareno Chumash Council (BCC) of Santa Barbara denounces all Federal, State and local bodies and especially PG& E of the possible, forthcoming or future destruction of our relatives off the coast in our waters. Any government that does not come to the defense of the defenseless, must now listen and act to our Chumash Peoples traditional ways and rights. Because of the gravity and seriousness of the proposed Seismic Testing we need to call on all peoples to act and voice their concerns to stop this act of terracide. This testing must not begin and the perpetrators must be exposed.

The autonomy or self-government in matters relating to our (Chumash) internal and local affairs is now a International matter, because what happens in the Ocean and on the Coast is an affair that matters to the Chumash Nation territory and our Turtle Island and our relatives; such as the Dolphins and Whales as well as other Ocean relatives.

The likelihood of a tragedy and the prevention of it is paramount. Our relatives (the Dolphins) as it is related to the Rainbow Bridge Chumash Legend is one that everyone loves yet we are about to kill our relatives. Our Dolphin brethren. The SEISMIC testing and its effect on the living relatives in the Ocean is not only damaging to the Ocean life but we are declaring a moratorium of all testing and further legitimization of the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant that is subsidized by the public and dangerous.

By the State of California and the PG&E ignoring and dismissing our concerns and the our Rights , they are in violation of the International Covenant and our religious Rights. The destruction of our Chumash Culture by the State and its decision and actions to continue this seismic testing needs to stop. Stop the destruction of our relatives and our families in the Ocean. The destruction and killing off of our relatives of the Ocean is directly killing our Nation. The death or harm to our A’loly’koy and Paxat is a death blow to us Chumash.

Stop the Testing Now!!

SIERRA CLUB SANTA LUCIA CHAPTER

Click here to read Sierra Club’s September 21 letter to the California Coastal Commission

We are writing to supplement our previous comments as more information has come to light about Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project. In light of the doubts voiced by geologists and seismologists about the degree of usefulness of the proposed project, we would ask PG&E and the Commission to examine the potential for a suite of less harmful alternative methods to determine the seismic risk surrounding Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (DCPP).

We believe that Central Coast residents deserve to know the magnitude of the seismic risks around DCPP, however we want to ensure that these tests are done right the first time. We share the concerns of many of our colleagues about whether the proposed test would answer key questions about earthquake risk at the plant. The current project may provide an incomplete picture of the seismic risk. It may give us more information on fault geometry, but potentially exclude other important considerations for determining risk, such as the movement of faults, the direction and speed of such movement, and the “sidetrack” potential of the Hogsri and Shoreline faults.

A combination of more sophisticated modeling, low-frequency testing, or use of new technology currently in development were not fully examined in the Environmental Impact Report as alternatives. As established at the August 9 meeting of the State Lands Commission, PG&E’s alleged March 2015 deadline for submission of seismic data to the NRC is a deadline of convenience, not necessity, hence technology expected to become commercially available in the next few years should be considered a viable alternative.

That is why we urge the Commission to deny the permit and consistency certification at this time and work with the applicant to fully examine alternatives that have the potential to produce more valuable data and greatly reduce impacts on the marine environment. Alternatively, we suggest the Commission issue a permit only for such portion of the project over which the Commission may have jurisdiction that involves the study of onshore seismic areas, with no impacts to marine resources or mitigations for same required, while working with the applicant on the development of procedures that would yield useful data on offshore faults while minimizing harm to marine wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas.

Because we believe there are as yet too many unanswered questions regarding the geophysical data that the project would acquire, the long-term environmental impacts to marine resources and the effectiveness of any conceivable mitigation, which cannot be answered in a short timeframe, we urge the Commission to deny a permit and consistency certification for this project at this time.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,
Andrew Christie, Director
Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club

SAN LUIS OBISPO COASTKEEPER

San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper is an advocate for fishable, swimable, drinkable water.

While our organization understands the importance a more complete examination of possible earthquake risk is to public health and safety, we are very concerned about the unknown long-term risk to marine life off our coast as well as the serious impacts to the Central Coast Network of Marine Protected Areas likely to occur from the study as proposed.

It is our position that a delay until an environmental baseline study has been conducted and alternative methods such as low-impact studies or other technology currently in development have been fully examined.

Gordon R. Hensley, San Luis Obispo COASTKEEPER®
Environment in the Public Interest

SAVE THE WHALES

Save The Whales objects to seismic testing to determine earthquake faults in the area of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant off the Central Coast of California. Diablo was constructed over a known fault line, the danger disregarded and the plant built. It opened in 1973.

Save The Whales objects to the California Lands Commission giving permission to PG&E to move ahead with the tests beginning November 1, 2012 and continuing through December 2012. The tests would emit loud blasts of piercing noise several miles into the ocean with reverberation back to the surface. The disruption and death of marine mammals, birds, fish, and damage to tourist and recreational activities in this vital stretch of California coast is not acceptable.

Estimates of the numbers of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea otters harmed or killed number in the thousands. Animals such as cetaceans might not be killed outright but suffer and die later from hearing loss or environmental impacts. It is feared that testing could seriously damage a small population of harbor porpoises in the Morro Bay area. This species is most sensitive to loud man-made sound and is the mammal most vulnerable to habitat abandonment and hearing loss.

It is not understandable how permission could be given to kill and harm endangered species, sea turtles and California sea otters. Many of the animals are in ostensibly protected areas such as MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) where animals are supposed to be legally protected. It makes a mockery of animal protection laws.

A large seismic array can produce sounds with pressures higher than those of virtually any other man-made source besides explosives. The director of Cornell’s Bioacoustics Research Program once described these surveys as possibly “the most severe acoustic insult to the marine environment.”

Nuclear energy, with its dangerous weak spots, should be phased out. Japan announced in September 2012 that it intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s. This is a major shift from goals that were set prior to the Fukushima disaster. The seismic testing slated to begin off of California’s Central Coast November 1, 2012 should not be allowed.

Sincerely,
Maris Sidenstecker
Executive Director
Save The Whales

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Stay tuned for further updates…

NRDC Calls for Stop to PG&E Seismic Test, Urges Coastal Commission to Deny Permit

National Resources Defense Council

In a significant, eleventh-hour break from the State Lands Commission (SLC), the lead state agency permitting PG&E’s controversial offshore California Central Coast 3D seismic test, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the influential national environmental organization, has withdrawn its support for the test it only recently endorsed. Furthermore, it has asked the California Coastal Commission to deny PG&E a coastal permit to conduct the test.

Less than a month ago, the NRDC worked closely with SLC staff to craft the mitigation measures for significant impacts to marine protected areas as result of PG&E’s high-energy high-decibel test of the fault lines around and under the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach. Although the NRDC’s action is belated — as the test is set to begin November 1 — their reversal of support could cause a ripple effect through upper state government circles and throughout the international environmental community, which is already solidly lining up against the test and its EIR-certified “significant and unavoidable” consequences. (See GROUPS LINE UP article.)

In a September 17 memo from Karen Garrison, a senior policy analyst with NRDC’s oceans program and co-director of its ocean program, to Coastal Commission staff, she stated: “In summary, we have concluded that the survey will provide only marginal additional informational information that will not affect the safety of the Diablo plant.”

Despite NRDC’s overall change of position on continuing the test, they still endorse mitigation and monitoring measures should the test not be stopped, as they suggest, and Coastal Commission grant a permit. Wrote Ms. Garrison: “We recommend that the Coastal Commission deny the permit. If the project goes forward, all possible steps should be taken to minimize to harm to the marine environment, and to mitigate impacts that are unavoidable.”

The memo appears to raise “public trust issues” as a primary catalyst for the NRDC’s about face. Wrote Ms. Garrison: “NRDC started with the view that the proposed survey would provide valuable information that could improve the earthquake safety of the reactor. However, after reading numerous relevant reports and consulting experts, we have become convinced that the survey would at best very marginally improve our understanding of the dip of Hosgri fault.

“PG&E has already modeled earthquake risk using worst case assumptions about the fault angle and concluded that the Diablo plant is safe. The survey might further constrain the uncertainty and tell us it is safer than indicated by the worst case scenario, but no changes would be made at the reactor. In light of this fact, we now conclude that the projected harm from this project far outweighs the public benefits, and that the seismic survey should not go forward.”

NRDC’s participation in helping to define mitigation measures to aid State Lands permitting the test was at the time viewed by some in the environmental community as an unacceptable compromise. With NRDC now having reversed its decision upon further review, after reconsidering the lack of critical information to be gleaned from the test — and the fact that no changes would be made to the reactor as a result — the test has become an unsustainable tradeoff of environment and economies for passive data that won’t make the aging plant any safer in a seismically active fault zone.

The test is scheduled to begin November 1 and run through the end of December.

Read their September 17, 2012 internal memo here.

Further Details to Follow.

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Los Osos Sewer Construction Getting Ready to Start

CORRECTION: A previous version of the article indicated that County Public Works Director Paavo Ogren was stepping down, a report based on an ad posted on SLOJobs.com. The ad’s job description was edited from “County Public Works Director” to “City Public Works Director” earlier Friday afternoon.

Though sewer project construction in Los Osos has been delayed by County Public Works — construction was originally set to begin in late July to early August — crews are starting to survey work and utility locations.

Updated by the project’s Community Liason Michelle HouserDigLosOsos.com offers updates and information about sewer construction. The site states that contractors who were recently awarded three collection systems contracts — The Areas A&D and ARB Inc. — received a notice to begin work on August 13 and they’re “currently mobilizing and preparing plans for initial activities.” Currently, the County maintains that construction is set to begin in September, but they’ve offered no specific dates.

The project team said they’re committed to informing residents of day-to-day activities.

“Our goal in communications is to let the community know what is happening and how it will affect their neighborhoods,” said Construction Manager Jim Brantley. “I’m sure many people are wondering what to expect when construction begins on their street.”

On August 28, County Public Works announced that the Mid-Town site — formerly called “Tri-W” — is close to being fully restored, though they stopped short of estimating when the restoration will be completed. However, restoration of Mid-Town is not part of the sewer construction itself, which involves preparing streets in Los Osos for the installation of collection systems. Completion of collection system installations is still set for December 2014.

There is no Los Osos sewer project update scheduled for County Board of Supervisors.

More construction information and updates regarding the Los Osos wastewater project can be found at DigLosOsos.com or or by calling the 24/7 DigLine at (805) 546-2802.

Queen Nation and Kenny Lee Lewis & The Barflyz to Rock Morro Bay Harbor Festival '12

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Morro Bay Harbor Festival

This year’s Morro Bay Harbor Festival isn’t simply on a mission with a goal to entertain audiences like never before – it’s out to surprise, delight and amaze them.

The 31st Morro Bay Harbor Festival, set for Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days, offers a fresh burst of “new-to-the-Central Coast” entertainment, including Queen Nation, one of the most celebrated classic rock revival bands touring today, as well as top local and regional bands, and some highly original entertainment right on the street.

Says Steve Buffalo, Executive Director of the Harbor Festival: “We hope to offer something extra special to help bring back the regulars who love to attend as well as those who have never been to the Festival. That’s why we’re offering such a diverse lineup of entertainment.”

That diversity of entertainment goes beyond music and is designed to turn the harbor area into a street fair. New at this year’s festival are four street entertainers who will “surprise and delight visitors with never-before-seen performances on the Central Coast,” according to the press release. These entertainers are: Marionetta, a 12-foot creature with a full marionette puppet show in her skirts, who comes to life when you see her up close, where her stunning handmade puppets prove to be replicas of a unique stage show; Columbina, a witty clown who uses her brains and beauty as a tool of entertainment and delight; The Living Statues; and The Living Floral Tree, who surprises audiences when she comes to life.

“This year, Festival visitors should be prepared to be surprised and amazed by these strolling entertainers,” Mr. Buffalo alerts The ROCK. “As they make their way through the event, most people won’t believe their eyes. They’re that unique.”

This year’s Harbor Festival will offer two stages of live bands including the two headliner bands. Queen Nation – a band that has received rave reviews for capturing the look and sound of Freddie Mercury & Queen — will perform on the Embarcadero Stage at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, October 6. On Sunday, October 7, Kenny Lee Lewis, lead guitarist of the Steve Miller Band and his local band The Barflyz, will rock the Embarcadero Stage, also at 2:30 p.m.

Anchoring this year’s great Morro Bay waterfront dining experience is the popular Seafood and Wine Pavilion, offering a variety of top area wines and freshly prepared seafood. Also featured in the Pavilion is wine tasting from over 20 wineries, as well as beer tasting courtesy of micro-brewery “Rock-tober.” Other top taste stops include the local fisherman’s barbecue, the People’s Choice Clam Chowder Tasting Contest, and the “Down the Hatch” Oyster-Eating Contest. There are also a wide variety of art & crafts, shopping, and free interactive programs and activities for children.

Other local entertainers and live bands scheduled to perform on both stages include:

Embarcadero Stage (October 6)
10:30 a.m. – Pacific Dance
12:00 p.m. – Burning James & the Funky Flames
1:45 p.m. – Hawaiian Shirt Contest
2:30 p.m. – Queen Nation
4:00 p.m. – Zumba by Sally
4:30 p.m. – Triple Threat

Abalone Stage (October 6)
10:00 a.m. – Tim Jackson
12:00 p.m. – The Shival Experience
2:00 p.m. – The Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band
4:00 p.m. – Trouble Hoof

Embarcadero Stage (October 7)
10:00 a.m. – Cuesta College Jazz Ensemble
12:00 p.m. – The Stratones
1:45 p.m. – “Down the Hatch” Oyster-Eating Contest
2:30 p.m. – The Barflyz
4:30 p.m. – The Versatones

Abalone Stage (October 7)
10:00 a.m. – Mud on the Tires
12:00 p.m. – The Jammies
2:00 p.m. – Jill Knight
4:00 p.m. – The Mighty Croon Dogs

Other highlights include: Discovering Science for Kids, Benet Serat Belly Dancing Troupe, the Incredible Sand Sculptures by the Sand Masters (as seen on the Travel Channel), among others.

For shoppers, there will be more than 100 different booths offering handmade crafts and maritime-themed gifts as well as original food treats from all over the Central Coast.

Each year, many festival volunteers generously donate their time on behalf of nonprofit groups they represent. Says Buffalo, “The cool part is that the hours they put in as a volunteer is calculated and added up.  Then, in return, from the profits we make at the event, we donate the value of those hours back to the nonprofits who have volunteers participating at the Festival.”

The Morro Bay Harbor Festival is sponsored by many local businesses including Morro Bay Furniture, Albertsons, Smart and Final, Casa De Flores, Morro Dunes, Morro Bay Power Plant, Tap It Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Embarcadero Inn, Rabobank, Sage Eco Landscapes, Estero Bay Graphics, Chevron, Coldwell Banker Liberty Realty, Morro Bay Tourism Bureau, the Cayucos Tavern, Giovanni’s Fish Market, and the San Luis Obispo Blues Society.

Media Sponsors of the Harbor Festival include KSBY-TV, New Times, The Cambrian, The Tribune, Bay News, SLO City News, Coast 101.3, KVEC, New Rock 107.3, Sunny Country 102.5 and 96.1, KPIG, 94.9 The Beach 95.3 and two Fresno radio stations, Classic Rock the Fox 95.7 and KJewel, 99.3.

Entrance tickets to the Morro Bay Harbor Festival are $10 adults, $5 for children ages 5-12, and children under 5 are free. Discount pre-sale admission tickets are available online at the Morro Bay Harbor Festival website: http://www.mbhf.com or starting September 24 can be purchased at Albertson’s in Morro Bay.

For more details about the 31st Annual Morro Bay Harbor Festival contact the Morro Bay Harbor Festival Office at (805) 772-1155 or by email at info@mbhf.com. Or contact Anna Scott at ScottMediaPartners@gmail.com or by phone at (805) 710-0713.

Morro Bay Fishermen, PG&E Compensation Negotiations — ‘Light Years Apart’

No Fishing, No Fish, No Compensation

On September 1 Mark Tognazzini, a member of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s negotiation team, told KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo that negotiations with PG&E over compensation for seasonal losses to the fishing industry and fisheries from their upcoming high-energy seismic test off the coast had stalled and that the two sides were “light years apart.”

One week later, on September 8, Mr. Tognazzini, who owns the Dockside Restaurants and fish market on Morro Bay’s Embarcadero, told The ROCK that the fishermen and PG&E are “even further apart now that they were before.”

And it doesn’t look like that galactic gap will be closing very much anytime in the foreseeable future.

The sides are so far apart on the dollar value of the losses to fishermen as a result of the PG&E’s high-decibel California Coastal Seismic Imaging Test, says Mr. Tognazzini, that they are currently in the process of trying to select a mediator, which PG&E will pay for, from a narrowed list. Meetings, however, are few and far between, and it remains unclear if mediation will actually net a settlement prior to the test or produce a legally binding one. The lack of a compensation agreement will not delay or stop the test.

Mr. Tognazzini is not optimistic about a positive outcome for the fishermen. “I think PG&E comes in and does what they want to do. They’ll have a claims process in that will be so bogged down that guys will give up,” he says. “In every meeting we have they always say, oh, we gotta go back and talk to the guys in charge. We bring the right guys to meeting to make decisions; they never bring the right guys to the meetings. It’s always somebody else they gotta go talk to.

“Right now we’re trying to pick a mediator, and they’ve eliminated a couple of really good mediators off the list,” he said. “We’re trying to agree on a mediator, and this is just to get to an MOU, in order words, a memo of doing business with them. We’ve got nothing in writing from them. They talk about this $1.3 million (offer) – this has just been tossed around a couple of times. What that is, that is their data they put together on the catch from ‘the racetrack’ area (of the test) only. Is this (test) going to cover 10 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles? It’s a little more far-reaching (than PG&E acknowledges)…”

Mr. Tognazzini is just as concerned about marine mammals, and is worried that PG&E has already divided and conquered the process by negotiating separately with environmental groups and other interested parties, making negotiations with the fishermen even more difficult.

“I’m willing to negotiate with them, but I think they have to look more far-reaching. I think there’s a little hype on both ends, and I think there’s more truth in the middle someplace. I know there’s immediate larvae kill within three to five meters of the guns. They say it’s inconsequential.

“In other words, if you take and extrapolate out the bio mass that gets killed because air guns travel in part of the ocean that all living forms are in that you can hardly see [then it’s inconsequential]. It’s where all the light is, where all the oxygen is; abalone live up there, sea urchin larvae live up there, rockfish, all the larvae live in the zone where the air guns go through. Every time they fire a gun, 18 different guns, three to five meters from that gun, everything is killed. Every 20 seconds, 24 hours a day,” he said. “To PG&E it’s inconsequential because they’re comparing it to 2.5 million gallons of sea water, and killing everything in that that goes into (Diablo Canyon) every day, so it is inconsequential compared to that, but that’s twisted.”

One of the reasons Mr. Tognazzini is on the negotiating team is that he has first-hand knowledge of the seismic testing process and what it does to fish. His boat was chosen for a geophysical survey and study conducted in 1986. “It wasn’t done to this intensity,” he said, “but there was geophysical work going on and we had the same complaints then that we have now.”

The half-million-dollar 1987 study, “Effect of Sounds From a Geophysical Survey Device on Fishing Success,” Mr. Tognazzini said, “shows at a 190 decibels using a single air gun results in a 52% reduction in catch. This study doesn’t begin to cover what you have going long-term.”

The study also included a startle-response test on fish in an enclosure in Cayucos. “It’s germane to this area, so it’s powerful evidence for what the test does. It never addressed the long-term issue. It was only about the behavior difference patterns in rockfish; it’s not about what it might do to larvae, it’s not about marine mammals.

“It’s strictly about behaviors,” Mr. Tognazzini said, “and if you just take that at face value — at 190 decibels, one gun, reduces the catch by 52% — it’s giant.”

PG&E’s upcoming $64-million 3D seismic survey will probe hundreds of square miles of ocean with 18 air guns blasting 240 to 260 decibels of sound, which, according to how science measures soundwaves traveling through water, will multiply the impact on area marine life by at least 20 times.

The Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization believes the PG&E test should not take place, and that PG&E already has sufficient information about fault lines surrounding the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant from previous tests to implement all necessary safety measures now — without another test that will significantly destroy marine life.

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Click here to read the complete Rockfish study.

Bo Cooper — The Conscience of Los Osos: A Tribute

Bo Cooper

Citizen, philosopher, author, community spokesperson Bo Cooper of Los Osos passed away Friday, August 31, after a long illness. He was 65. Born in New York, Mr. Cooper is survived by his wife, partner and best friend, Lacey Cooper. A 30-year resident of Los Osos, Mr. Cooper was one of the most beloved and respected members of his community, which he so uniquely represented at District and Board of Supervisors meetings through the years, whenever and wherever his eloquent call for reason, fairness and affordability was most needed.

Mr. Cooper worked for Transitions Mental Health in San Luis Obispo as director of a psychosocial rehabilitation program for psychiatrically-disabled adults in San Luis Obispo, and was well known for his tireless dedication to improving lives through his work and in the community. He also taught college courses in philosophy and religion at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc for college credit through Hancock College. Lifelong lovers of Greek literature, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper self-published the book, “Epictetus: the Discourses: A Classical Guide to Freedom and Happiness.”

Mr. Cooper was the also the very first columnist to appear in the original newspaper edition of The ROCK. His column, “The Common Good,” first ran in The ROCK in 2007. In elegant, educated, timeless prose rich with an undying love for his community, he wrote prophetically about how the issue of affordability was being ignored by first the LOCSD and then the County in its push for the $200 million Los Osos Wastewater Project, which at least half the town couldn’t afford. His vital comments still ring true today.

Nothing speaks to Mr. Cooper’s brilliance and courage, his boundless love of freedom, and his limitless, selfless devotion to humanity and community, than his own words. We at The ROCK are proud and honored to be able to present four of Mr. Cooper’s magnificent columns exactly as they first appeared in The ROCK. A truly beautiful being and constant inspiration, Bo Cooper will live on in the hearts of many as long as love and friendship are treasured and the conscience of men needs an angel’s voice to be heard.

To read his words, click here.