Commission to discuss whale-killing Diablo Canyon seismic testing

By Dan Bacher

Responding to outrage and protests by fishermen and environmentalists, the California Fish and Game Commission has scheduled a special meeting in Sacramento on September 24 to address the growing controversy surrounding Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s plans to conduct high-energy seismic surveys in the ocean on the Central Coast off the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.  

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at the Resources Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street. 

After the public forum at the beginning of the meeting where any member of the public may address the Commission regarding the implementation of its policies or any other matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission, the Commission will receive and discuss information on PG&E’s proposed Central Coast “Seismic Imaging Project.”   

The testing is expected to kill and harm blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, fish and other marine life in a wide swatch of ocean, including the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve that went into effect under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in 2007. 

According to a PG&E representative at an informational meeting, the proposal calls for a 240-foot 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 deafening underwater explosions once every twenty seconds, day and night, for 42 days and nights.  The region of California’s Center where this devastating assault on wildlife is expected to take place includes the “protected” Point Buchon State Marine Reserve. 

Julie Tacker, San Luis Obispo activist and former LOSCD director, summarized the tremendous risk the seismic EIR presents to whales, dolphins and other marine life.

“The worst case scenario (including a 25% contingency) ‘take’ count goes like the old Christmas song,” according to Tacker. “One Minke Whale, 2 Sperm Whales, 5 Dwarf Sperm Whales, 15 Blue Whales and 97 California Gray Whales, 25 Fin Whales, 13 Humpback Whales, A single Short-Finned Pilot Whale, 3 Baird’s Beak, 7 Killer Whales, 8 Striped Dolphins, 8 Small Beaked Whales, 81 Dall’s Porpoise, 82 Long-Beaked Dolphins, 98 Risso’s Dolphins, 114 Northern Right Whale Dolphins, 198 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, 1,652 Bottlenose Dolphins and 1,834 Short-Beaked Dolphi76 Harbor Seals, 1,062 California Sea Lions, and 1,485 Southern Sea Otters, untold sea turtles of several varieties, numerous fish and bird species and the next generation sea life including nearly 4 million larva of all types.” 

The Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) company has been given the green light by various agencies in Sacramento to survey the spiderweb of earthquake faults surrounding their controversial nuclear facility. However, the Fish and Game Commission still has not granted its final approval, according to David Gurney, Vice Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition of Mendocino County and independent journalist (http://noyonews.net).

Gurney stated, “In early June of this year, members of the F&G Commission found themselves in the embarrassing position of congratulating themselves on final approval of controversial “marine protection areas” on the North Coast, just as they were being asked by PG&E to “cleanse” the Point Bushon “State Marine Reserve” and “State Marine Conservation Areas” on the Central Coast.   (http://noyonews.net/?p=6344)

“Activists on California’s North Coast were deliberately silenced by a corrupt MLPA Initiative’ when they asked for protections against seismic testing, navy sonar, oil drilling and infrastructure, wave energy, and other threats to MPA’s, as intended by the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. The so-called MLPA “Initiative” was headed up by Big Oil, Big Energy, and Big Agriculture appointees, and informed by “scientists” with gross conflict of interest,” noted Gurney.

Gurney emphasized, “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.  A 240 dB blast is reportedly like being one foot away from the mouth of a large cannon.  For a human, your ears, or what’s left of your ears, would probably never stop ringing. The consequences of experiencing this level of sound can only be presumed to be immediate and permanent deafness – if not worse. For sea life, beyond just broken eardrums, the transfer of low-frequency shock waves from water-air-water causes hemorrhaging of lungs and air-sacks, and will result in the death of marine mammals – whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and otters – and fish.”  

Even worse, at Friday’s Coastal Commission meeting in Caspar, California, Deputy Director Alison Dettmer announced that seismic testing plans for the controversial Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant are not the only high-energy surveys proposed for studying potential earthquakes off the state’s two active nuclear facilities – they are also planned off the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station!  

According to Dettmer, the Diablo air-gun survey “would cover about 300 square miles, in both state and federal waters.  The SONGS survey, (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) limited to *federal waters, would cover about 1,300 square miles.” (http://noyonews.net/?p=74)

The Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing facebook page (LINKset  up by Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group, is growing quickly, reflecting the growing concern of the public about the terrible idea of seismic blasting on the Central Coast of California.

The group held a “Thank the Whales” protest on September 1, drawing over 400 people to Port San Luis and Avila Beach to thank the whales for converging in large numbers on the Central Coast, apparently to alert people of the dangers of seismic testing. “With this event, the corporate media black out ended,” said Racano.

Racano, Gurney and many others will attending the Fish & Game Commission meeting in Sacramento on September 24. Racano would  like to present them with your letters, so please write one and send it to him at: California Fish & Game Commission C/O Joey Racano, 1487 Nipomo Ave, Los Osos, California, 93402.

A list of upcoming events and meetings follows:

October 6th and 7th, Tabling for letters at the Harbor Festival, come work with the STDCST team!

October 10th, LIGHTS OUT AGAINST SEISMIC TESTING! Join people throughout California as we dim our lights for 1 hour starting at 8:00pm Pacific Standard Time in a statewide show of solidarity against seismic testing at both Diablo Canyon and San Onofre Nuclear Waste Plants.

October 15th, On the new moon, come take part in the first ever Avila Calling of the Whales Light Festival, on the beach in Avila! YOU WILL NEED TO BRING YOUR FLASHLIGHT. Singers, ceremony, whale song and LIGHTS! Details to be announced. 

October 10th-11th or 12th, California Coastal Commission in Oceanside. Be there, call or Fax them, or write them a letter at:

Central Coast District Office
Dan Carl, Deputy Director
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4508
(831) 427-4863 
FAX (831) 427-4877
 

Please keep writing letters to the newspapers:

letters@thetribunenews.com,    letters@newtimesslo.com,    neil@tolosapress.com

Take Action Now!

Please email the Fish and Game Commission with your concerns about the deadly seismic testing at:

fgc@fgc.ca.gov attn: Sonke Mastrup

 

Contact Senator Sam Blakeslee and ask him to reconsider his bill because seismic testing is too destructive to proceed at: senator.blakeslee@senate.ca.gov

Senator Sam Blakeslee
4066 State Capitol
California 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4015   Fax: (916) 445-8081 
 

Call Senator Barbara Boxer at:  202 224-3553

Contact Congresswoman Lois Capps at:

The Honorable Lois Capps
United States House of Representatives
2231 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0523
DC Phone: (202) 225-3601
FAX: (202) 225-5632   

 

For details and an agenda of the upcoming Fish and Game Commission meeting, go to: http://www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2012/092412agd.pdf

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