Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project–Whales Need Your Help NOW!
To: Mary Shallenberger, Chair, California Coastal Commission and Jennifer Deleon, Project Manager, California State Lands Commission
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is posed to conduct seismic testing in a grid pattern over a large area off the Central Coast of California from Cambria to the Santa Maria River. Tests could begin as early as September 2012 and last until the end of the year. The research ship would emit blasts of very loud noise into the ocean. Streamers four or five miles long would be towed behind the vessel, which would pick up the sound waves as they penetrate several miles into the Earth’s crust and reverberate back to the surface.
Tests would last for 24 hours and would kill or injure marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and otters. A deaf marine mammal is a dead one as this is the sense they rely on to communicate, navigate and find food. Seabirds and other species such as endangered sea turtles, could be affected as well, with little or no way of mitigating the impacts. Great potential harm is highly possible to the small population of harbor porpoises in the Morro Bay area. They are most sensitive to loud man-made sound and the mammal most vulnerable to habitat abandonment and to hearing loss.
PG&E’s position is that the tests are necessary to map the ocean floor so geologists can better understand the earthquake faults near Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, close to San Luis Obispo, California. Earthquake faults were known at the time the plant was built. PG&E states these tests are essential in the aftermath of the Fukushima earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and the potential for a nuclear disaster.
If an earthquake happened within the near future, what could be done to ensure that the Diablo Canyon plant would not have a meltdown? How will these tests prevent that scenario? The nuclear plant was constructed knowing that faults were nearby and that earthquakes were a potential danger. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the millions of dollars the tests will cost to instead begin plans to shut down the plant and find ways to shift to safe energy? Wouldn’t this be wiser than destroying untold numbers of animals within a Marine Protected Area, particularly when the necessary safeguards have not been implemented?