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Rejected Seismic Study May Not Affect San Onofre Quake Report

The state Coastal Commission blocks an offshore analysis of earthquake faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant because of potential harm to marine life. A similar study near San Onofre is still possible.

Although environmentalists persuaded the California Coastal Commission to reject a seismic study they said would harm marine life, that doesn't mean a similar study proposed for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station faces the same fate.

A spokeswoman for Southern California Edison cited several key differences between Edison's study and Pacific Gas & Electric's proposal to analyze earthquake faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Central California.

"Our plans are not finalized yet," said Edison's Jennifer Manfre. "We have a different plan and we're looking at a different area."

For Diablo Canyon, scientists were planning to map earthquake faults with high-decibel sound cannons that shoot audio waves into the ocean floor, according to KPBS.

Fishermen and environmentalists showed up in force at the Coastal Commission's Wednesday meeting to oppose the plan, saying the sound waves would harm or kill marine life, especially whales and dolphins that rely on SONAR-like songs to navigate and communicate.

Manfre said the Coastal Commission would consider the SCE study, set to be conducted by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, as a separate issue. Initial plans for the SCE study indicate it would have less impact than the rejected PG&E one, she said.

First, marine mammal migratory patterns are different around the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Second, the San Onofre study would require fewer sound cannons and would be less intrusive, Manfre said.

Also, a large part of the study would analyze existing data using more advanced software, a process that doesn't require scientists to leave their labs, she said.

Either way, the study has been postponed because the plant has been shut down since January because of faulty components, KPBS reports.

The California Public Utilities Commission has allocated $64 million statewide for seismic studies it asserts are needed to make sure plants around the state will be safe in the event of earthquakes.

Caroline Brooks November 16, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Okay, please please please become educated about this Californians. It's not sonicblasting! It's seismic air guns that produce a pulse of air, that comes out of the device in a circumference of maybe 1/2 meter. This string of devices called air guns, float ~4 m below the surface. And this vessel slated for this study works directly with Scripps retards they are always on this boat so it seems like this could be Scripps trying to bad mouth a good thing for their benefit! I have worked on this boat before and it is a collegiate research vessel. They employ the most efficient and professional marine mammal officers available and all operations are stopped when any marine mamml are seen within a mile radius. Now its been cited that fish could also be disrupted in this shoot, I am an oceanographer, believe me fish do not sit in the upper 4 meters of the ocean where they conduct these experiments. Fish and their schools do love to live in the euphotic zone (~100m depth), but they never inhabit the upper layer of the ocean bc they're smart and thats where predators strike, they even go down further to depths of 30m-70m during the day to avoid predation. So please I feel like this seismic shoot is been given very bad mis advised press! Please recognize that you live in an incredibly seimic area, aka you are gonna have an earthquake stupid, please fight for progressive things! your life
Justin johnson November 16, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Never, ever trust anything Edison tells you !
Jay Berman November 16, 2012 at 06:48 PM
This has been studied to death already ... we already know where the faults are and what energy they can produce ... just a waste of money .... San Onofre has been operating safety for about 40 years ... fire it up already ..
Donna Gilmore November 17, 2012 at 11:47 PM
According to the USGS, no one has ever been able to predict a major earthquake. They don't know how and they probably never will. The earth's crust can change after an earthquake starts, so it's size may change. For more information go to http://sanonofresafety.org
LN Mark November 18, 2012 at 12:43 AM
What a useless, misleading, and one sided website. Energy we don't need? Seriously? This suggests you live up one of the canyons off the grid. Are you powered by your own solar panels? I'm not so fortunate to have lots of south facing roof surfaces to place them in my little corner of the suburbs. Have you checked to see how many millions SCE has spent buying power from other generators since SONGS has been off line? Fix Mitsubishi's problems and get it back on line.

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