P.G.&E. proposes to erase Point Bushon “Marine Protected Area”

by David Gurney

In a bizarre footnote to the final implementation of the privately funded MLPAI “Initiative,” Pacific Gas and Electric Company has asked the California Fish and Game Commission for a “scientific collecting permit” to possibly “cleanse an extensive swath of the ocean – virtually sterilized of living creatures” (Comm. Richard Rogers) – within a “Marine Protected Area” off the Central California Coast.


The “safety zone” of evacuation, in the event of a Diablo Canyon meltdown

After the Fish and Game Commission adopted the final North Coast leg of the Marine Life Protection Act “Initiative” in Eureka, California on June 6, 2012, the next item on their agenda was a request from P.G. & E. for a “scientific collecting permit” – to allow the blasting of 250 decibel air cannons, within the Central Coast’s Point Bushon ‘Marine Protected Area.’

According to the P.G.&E. representative at the meeting, the proposal calls for a 240 ft. ship to tow a quarter-mile wide array of twenty 250 decibel “air cannons,” along a 90-mile stretch of California’s Central Coast.  The cannons will shoot very loud underwater explosions once every twenty seconds, day and night, for 42 days and nights, beginning in September, 2012.

Once the shock waves kill or deafen everything in their path, from the surface to the ocean floor, they will penetrate deep into the earth’s crust, allowing scientists to map the newly discovered fault lines just offshore from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

The Hosgri Fault, discovered in 1971, is an 87-mile strand of the San Andeas fault system that lies less than three miles offshore from the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors and spent fuel-rod cooling “ponds.”  The fault’s discovery forced P.G.&E. to redesign the Diablo plant to withstand at least a 6.5 magnitude earthquake.

But, according to the Southern California Earthquake Data Center, the Hosgri Fault is capable of producing a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, or greater.

And the recently discovered “Shoreline Fault” is less than half-mile from the plant.  Scientists fear that in combination, the Hosgri and Shoreline faults are capaple of producing a major “lateral slip/strike” quake of undetermined proportions.  Since strands of the Shoreline fault could branch directly beneath Diablo Canyon itself,  the possible resulting catastrophe could make Fukushima seem like a picnic.


The Shoreline Fault, a few hundred yards offshore from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.  The Hosgri Fault, part of the San Andeas fault system, is just offshore.  Scientist fear that in combination, the resulting earthquake could totally devastate the Diablo Canyon plant, resulting in the world’s worst nuclear nightmare.


Although they did not reveal the fact to either the Fish & Game Commission nor the public at the June 6 meeting, P.G.&E. has been ordered by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a safety review of the plant, before being granted approval for a re-licensing application.

The survey procedure involves firing nine of eighteen seismic air cannons at any given time, two being kept in reserve as spares.  Each of these underwater blasts will be at the volume level of a shock wave, that will instantly deafen, maim and possibly kill everything unfortunate enough to be in its path.

The resulting underground seismic profiling from the blasts, similar to a CAT scan, would give geophysicists a 3-D picture of just how bad the newly discovered fault networks actually are.

According to Commissioner Richard D. Rogers, conducting the seismic tests with these eighteen, 250 decibel (dB) air cannons, would “literally cleanse an extensive swath of the ccean, virtually sterilized of living creatures.”  Much to the chagrin of the three commissioners attending the meeting, who had just congratulated themselves on finishing up the last of California’s novel “network of marine protected areas,” this “cleansing” of all marine life includes the entire Point Buchon “marine protected area,” created by the MLPAI “Initiative” in 2007.

The Point Buchon “marine protected area”: a ‘State Marine Reserve’ (SMR) and ‘State Marine Conservation Area’ (SMCA).    P.G.&E.’s  proposed seismic testing would occur throughout, and well to the North of Point Buchon.  All territorial fish and marine mammals within both “marine protection areas” – would be “cleansed.”



In the realm of human hearing, a sound of 140 decibels, carried through the air, is considered loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage, although “Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss” .

140 dB is as loud as a jet engine.  A 150 dB sound is like having fireworks exploded three feet away from you.  165 dB is the sound that comes out of the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun.  A stun grenade produces a sound 170-180 dB.  Over 200 dB is well off the scale of most noise or hearing loss charts.  But 240 dB blast is reportedly like being one foot away from the mouth of a large cannon.  Your ears, or what’s left of your ears, would probably never stop ringing.

Since the dB scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic and not linear, 250 dB is exponentially greater than 240 dB.  The consequences of experiencing this level of sound can only be presumed to be immediate and permanent deafness – if not worse.

Sound travels differently in water than in air.  Though it travels farther and faster, the shock wave of louds sounds, like an explosion, is less intense at higher frequencies in water.   But at the 200 Hz and lower frequency range that P.G.&E. proposes to conduct these tests, severe damage to marine mammals and fish and will undoubtedly result.  Beyond just broken ear drums, the transfer of low-frequency shock waves from water-air-water causes hemorraging of lungs and air-sacks, and will result in the death of marine mammals – whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and otters – and fish.

Sea otters have re-established foothold populations off Point Bushon and the Diablo Canyon nuclear complex.


Noyo News will have more on this developing story….


“(Richardson et al., (1991) suggest that if baleen whales show low auditory thresholds for low frequency sounds, then sound levels of 195-210 dB might result in immediate damage to their auditory organs.)  Link
“(In Simmonds and Hutchinson, 1996), Jonathan Gordon and Anna Moscrop state that shock waves caused by intense underwater sound sources can cause direct tissue damage. Animals with air filled lungs and swim bladders are especially vulnerable because of the large difference in impedance between air in the lungs and their body tissues or sea water. Submerged animals exposed to explosions at short range showed hemorrhage in the lungs and ulceration of the gastro-intestinal tract.”
Loud underwater sounds also, of course, affect fish and other marine life. Studies show harmful effects of even moderate noise on hearing in fish and the viability of fish eggs exposed to noisy environments was significantly reduced (Myrberg, 1990). On March 10, 1998 the “Seattle Times” reported that hundreds of dead fish appeared in Lake Washington after 240 dB airgun blasts were used to test for earthquake faults. Seismometers dozens of miles away picked up the air gun pulses and nearby residents felt their beds shaking.”   source: link




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4 Responses to P.G.&E. proposes to erase Point Bushon “Marine Protected Area”

  1. Joey Racano says:

    Not PGandE not anyone, can be allowed to thumb their nose at an MPA, especially not a State Marine Reserve! Once an exemption is made, they all are doomed. If PGandE is allowed to move forward, then we may not reach the goals set forth in the MLPA. Even the regulatory agencies do not have the authority to change the goals set forth. They were created by an act of the legislature and can be undone only by an act of the legislature. I don’t think F&G Commissioners want to roll over for PGandE anyway- I watched them stand up to the Navy over Vandenberg.

    I am already fighting over the other central coast SMR in Morro Bay, where Harbor Dept wants to dredge up an old marina! Stand fast people- STAND FAST!

    Joey Racano, Director
    Ocean Outfall Group

    • David Gurney says:

      The concern of many community representatives on the North Coast, was that the new MLPA fishing/gathering regulations did not address other ocean protection issues. Unfortunately, these concerns were strictly forbidden to be aired or addressed at the “public meetings” of the corrupt, privately funded boondoggle.

      I was arrested after asking just such a question – apparently at the orders of Ken Wiseman, executive director of the MLPA “Initiative.”

      “Public meetings” were run by Kearns and West, a PR/Management outfit with GROSS conflicts of interest in the energy sector. (see Noyo News under “Kearns and West”).

      The MLPAI was riddled with conflict of interest and corruption. Why was the president of the Western States Petroleum Association – Catherine Reheis-Boyd – serving on the ‘Blue Ribbon Task Force’ during the entire fiasco?

      The major issue of these nuclear plants – Diablo and San Onofre – should have been dealt with by the South & Central Coast MLPA’s, but the corporatized environmental groups dared not go there.

      So here we are. I say, SHUT THEM DOWN !!!

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