Cambria services district directors weigh in against PG&E's seismic test plans

ktanner@thetribunenews.comNovember 2, 2012 

This story has been updated with a quote from a PG&E spokesman:

Directors of Cambria’s services district have joined some of their peers in opposing PG&E’s planned high-energy, three-dimensional seismic tests. The high-volume tests would use air guns, hydrophones and geophones around the clock in state and federal waters off the Central Coast near Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, extending up nearly to Cambria.

The tests are designed to map in more detail the earthquake faults around the plant, to help assess quake potential and risk near the plant.

The Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors voted unanimously Oct. 25 to send a letter of opposition to the California Coastal Commission and any other agencies that would have to issue a permit for the utility’s project, or rule that the tests are consistent with state law or certify PG&E’s environmental report on the project.

The commission is due to review the testing regime, holding an Energy, Ocean Resources and Federal Consistency hearing at its three-day meeting in Santa Monica beginning Wednesday, Nov. 14.

The district board’s letter of opposition sent Oct. 29 noted the tests’ proximity to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, home to many different endangered species.

“Loud sounds emitted by the air guns could injure marine wildlife or drive it away from the area,” the letter said. “Local coastal opponents of the test maintain it violates the California Coastal Act, and dispute PG&E’s low-risk assessment of injury and mortality to marine life and mammals, the damage to the ecosystem, as well as to the fishing industry and economy of the much treasured coastal area from Port San Luis to Morro Bay.”

PG&E spokesman Blair Jones issued this statement in response to the CCSD's concerns:

"PG&E is committed to conducting this proposed seismic research safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. Similar research is performed around the world without harming marine life. To limit potential impacts, PG&E is implementing and funding numerous marine life protective and monitoring programs. These include the use of trained species observers, aerial surveys and establishing marine mammal protection zones.”


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