PG&E delays and downsizes seismic testing proposal
Source: Dan Bacher, SF Bay Area Indymedia
Pacific Gas and Electric will delay and downsize its seismic testing proposed off the Central Coast near the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plan, according to a statement from the company on September 28.
The announcement took four days after a Fish and Game Commission meeting in Sacramento where Commission members, environmentalists, Indian Tribal representatives, recreational anglers and commercial fishermen voiced their strong opposition to PG&E's plan to conduct high energy seismic testing off the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant because of the big threat the testing poses to whales, dolphins, salmon, rockfish and other marine life.
Jim Kellogg, President of the Fish and Game Commission, eloquently said at the meeting, "I have been involved since the beginning of the MLPA process and I fought hard to get the best deal for the anglers... Now I will be the strongest advocate to keep protections in place. I've asked PG&E if it would would do a world wide search to for other technology to conduct these safety tests."
"It's a Marine Life Protection Area, not a Marine Life Killing Area and as long as I'm here we're not gonna recommend to the Department anything that's killing anything that we're trying to protect," emphasized Kellogg.
In reaction to the comments by Kellogg and many others, PG&E in its statement responded, "To address community and regulator feedback regarding its proposed high-energy offshore seismic study near the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, PG&E will submit a modified survey proposal to the California Coastal Commission for consideration during its November meeting." (http://www.pgecurrents.com/2012/09/28/pge-to-submit-modified-seismic-study-proposal-to-california-coastal-commission)
"Under PG&E’s revised proposal, the utility will seek approval to conduct limited research in late November through December of this year, focusing on studying only one of the three proposed survey areas located near Diablo Canyon," the company said.
PG&E will use the R/V Marcus Langseth, owned by the National Science Foundation, to do seismic testing.
PG&E said the proposal has "two main purposes to confirm the technology selected for the seismic research is appropriate and ensure the many marine life monitoring and protection measures the utility developed in coordination with various stakeholders and regulatory agencies are effective."
“We understand that members of the San Luis Obispo community and other stakeholders have concerns about the high-energy seismic survey called for by the state and proposed by PG&E to begin this November,” said Jearl Strickland, PG&E’s director of nuclear projects. “We also understand people are concerned about the seismic nature of our region and they want to see this research performed.”
“PG&E is committed to conducting all of our seismic research safely and in a manner that respects community and environmental values. We appreciate the public and regulator input we have received and continue to work collaboratively to find a balanced solution,” said Strickland.
The survey is expected to last approximately 12 days and will focus on studying portions of the Hosgri, Los Osos and Shoreline fault zones in the region of Estero Bay. The survey will not overlap into the Point Buchon Marine Protected Area, according to PG&E.
According to the statement, "PG&E’s advanced seismic research was called for by the state and includes the use of on-shore and off-shore low and high-energy seismic studies, as well as the installation of ocean-bottom sensors to detect seismic activity. The data will provide a more accurate and detailed picture of the region’s complex geology, and will help further define the level of seismic activity faults in the region of Diablo Canyon are capable of producing. PG&E will use this data to support its ongoing seismic safety program work that continually assesses and validates the seismic design of the facility."
"Recent findings by federal agencies have determined that the environmental impact of the proposed research may result in a temporary disturbance of marine mammals and fish in the survey areas. Those findings are supported by similar projects around the world, which have not identified adverse, long-term impacts to marine life," the statement continued.
"To limit potential impacts to marine life, PG&E will implement numerous mitigation and monitoring programs before, during and after the survey period, which includes the use of trained species observers, aerial surveys and establishing marine mammal protection zones. The work will be continually monitored by the National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other state and federal agencies,” the company said.
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