New group formed to oppose offshore seismic testing

A group has been formed to oppose high-energy seismic surveys off Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Called Citizens Opposing Acoustic Seismic Testing or COAST, the alliance calls itself a “diverse coalition of individuals, associations and government and non-government organizations 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.”

They contend that the surveys violate a wide variety of state and federal laws and could devastate the county’s economy. The possible environmental impacts of the surveys include killing fish larvae and displacing adult fish and marine mammals.

The surveys call for a research vessel to emit very loud blasts of sound into the ocean around the clock starting as early as Nov. 1 and possibly continuing into December. Hydrophones towed behind the vessel will pick up the echoes from deep within the Earth’s crust, and seismologists will be able to use the data to better understand the earthquake faults surrounding the nuclear plant.

Morro Bay commercial fisherman Mark Tognazzini said the alliance brings together fishermen and environmental groups that are often at odds with one another.

“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,” he said.

PG&E and federal wildlife agencies are planning a variety of mitigation efforts to reduce and study the impacts of the surveys on marine mammals. The utility has also offered $1.2 million in compensation to local fishermen who are affected by the surveys.