Seismic testing unanimously denied

Yesterday, the California Coastal Commission unanimously denied PG&E’s proposal to conduct seismic testing off of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The Commission denied the project because the harm to the marine environment and ocean recreation was significant while only providing marginal benefits to estimating earthquake hazards.

Over 400 people turned out in opposition to the project of all ages and walks of life from environmental activists, fisherman, local business owners to surfers. There presence had a major impact on the decision. The public turnout was backed by great work by a coalition of leading coastal and ocean environmental groups that provided sound arguments for denial of the project. Special thanks to the Surfrider San Luis Obispo Chapter for their early leadership on this issue.

Read more here and here.



Threats to recreation and human health


The stretch of coast between Montana de Oro State Park through Morro Bay and up to Cayucos is rich with both biological and recreational resources. This is the stretch that will be impacted by the proposed Diablo Canyon seismic testing. Pretty much everything you can see in the photo above will be off limits during the 17 days of testing because the underwater sounds generated by the seismic airguns pose a hazard to human heath if you are in the water.

This map produced by the Coastal Commission  (above) shows the area that will be exposed to 160 db sound from underwater blasts (red dotted line). The blasts will go off every 11-20 seconds 24/7 during the survey period.  The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project  concluded that any sound over 154 db is considered harmful for recreational divers and swimmers in the project area. The EIR notes that 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. More concerning is that the 160 db limit is just a best estimate. There is reason to believe that the sound could amplify (like ocean waves do) as it enters shallow water and increase in power.

While 160 db doesn’t seem a lot higher than 154 db, it is because decibels are logarithmic. So a 6 db difference equates to 4 times more powerful noise. Further, the Navy standard for exposure to underwater noise is 145 db. Exposure to 160 db is 30 times higher than the Navy standard. The Coastal Commission concludes, “Individuals engaged in water-oriented recreational activities in these areas during active survey operations may therefore be at an increased risk of injury” 


The Coastal Commission also concludes that PG&E has proposed inadequate plans to warn ocean users (surfers, swimmers, divers & snorkelers) about these hazards, provide updated sound propagation maps in the sound is more powerful, or any plans to mitigate for the lost recreational use. This is yet another important reason why this project should be stopped.

What can you do? 

1. Attend the Coastal Commission meeting on November 14th in Santa Monica. Info here.

2. Send an email to the Coastal Commission opposing this project here.





Coastal Commission report says PG&E seismic surveys would hurt marine mammals

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was scrambling Monday to salvage plans to conduct seismic surveys using sonic blasts off the coast near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant after a state regulatory agency staff report concluded it would disturb more than 7,000 marine mammals.

Read LA Times article here:,0,504497.story

See Coastal Commission report here:  Application No. E-12-005 and CC-027-12 (Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Luis Obispo Co. (109 page .pdf)

Please attend the Coastal Commission hearing on Wed. November 14th to ensure the Coastal Commissioners honor this report. Info on the meeting here.












County supervisors vote to oppose seismic tests at Diablo Canyon

After listening to more than four hours of impassioned pleas from local residents, county supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose a proposal to conduct high-energy seismic surveys offshore of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The county board will outline its position in a letter to the California Coastal Commission, which will consider PG&E’s plans to conduct the earthquake fault surveys when it meets in Santa Monica starting Nov. 14.

It’s important to note that the County does not have jurisdiction over the project so it will be the California Coastal Commission who will be deciding on this project on November 14th. More info on the hearing here.

Seismic Testing on SLO Board of Supes’ Tuesday agenda

Citizens of the Central Coast will get a chance Tuesday afternoon to tell the Board of Supervisors how they feel about seismic testing off their shore. But the hearing, expected to be lengthy, is more than a gripe session. It could lead to the board asking the Coastal Commission to put the brakes on the project.

Environmentalists oppose PG&E plans for undersea air blasts

 PG&E plans to use underwater ‘air cannons’ emitting 250-decibel blasts every 15 seconds for 12 straight days to map earthquake fault zones near Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.  Over objections of Central Coast residents and environmental groups, Pacific Gas & Electric plans to map earthquake fault zones near its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by blasting high-decibel air cannons under the surface of the ocean.  Read full article here.




Seismic Tests for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Draw Surfrider and Fishermen Opposition

The San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation came out strongly against underwater seismic testing off the Central California coast, an industry reaction to Japan’s nuclear nightmare after a destructive earthquake.

But in a case of groups at times strongly at odds finding common ground (or water, actually), sportfishermen also oppose the tests to assess the susceptibility of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Generating Facility to seismic activity.  Read more here.


Sound Waves

PG&E’s fault line research could blast marine mammals with sound

Marine mammals including whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters that live and migrate along the Central California coast could be in for some mind-rattling commotion come November if Pacific Gas & Electric Co. receives clearance next month for a controversial research project. California’s largest electric company is seeking permits to conduct high-energy and possibly harmful seismic testing in the waters just offshore of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County.  Here more here.



PG&E’s Seismic Survey: The Opposition


In June 2011, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced that they would be applying to conduct a high-energy offshore seismic survey off the coast of San Luis Obispo. PG&E hopes that this survey might help to prevent a nuclear disaster at their Diablo nuclear plant similar to that which occurred in Fukushima, Japan last year. Similar seismic testing has been done in several other parts of the world and has been associated with the disruption of marine wildlife by some experts.

The Surfrider Foundation recently began a campaign opposing this testing. Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, California Policy Manager for Surfrider says that the organization thought long and hard about the proposed testing before taking a stance. “We wanted to be very mindful about how we approached this, but unfortunately the more we started digging, the more we found that really gave us huge concerns.

Read more here.