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.
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.
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.
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.
Save The Whales
Stay tuned for further updates…