Surfrider Foundation Stands Against Seismic Testing Plan

September 20 2012

Planned Testing Will Be Catastrophic To Marine Life and Poses Risk to Divers, Swimmers and Surfers

The Surfrider Foundation vowed today to stop seismic testing slated to begin off the coast of Central California this November.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) proposed the tests to assess the susceptibility of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Generating Facility to seismic activity.  A 240-foot ship will tow powerful air cannons along a 50-mile stretch of the Central Coast, shooting deafening underwater explosions (upwards of 250 decibels) every 13 seconds for 42 straight days.

This action will be catastrophic to local marine life, especially marine mammals, which rely on their sensitive auditory capabilities for communication and navigation.  The takings permit for the project – the estimated amount of wildlife that could be killed – includes 15 blue whales, 13 humpback whales, 1,652 bottlenose dolphins, 1,062 California sea lions, 1,485 southern sea otters, among the thousands of other marine mammals, along with untold scores of fish and bird deaths. This potential loss of wildlife is even more staggering considering it will impact areas specially designated to protect marine life.

There is also significant concern that the air gun noise may threaten the health of ocean recreationalists in the testing zones, including divers, swimmers and surfers.

“This section of coast offers expansive stretches of beach and reef breaks,” says Brad Snook, Chair of the Surfrider Foundation’s San Luis Obispo Chapter.  “This proposed high-energy seismic testing project threatens the sporting experience and biodiversity of the Central Coast.”

The Surfrider Foundation has submitted comments to the California Coastal Commission and is encouraging public opposition to the project at the California Coastal Commission meeting on October 10th in Oceanside, CA.

“Seismic surveying off Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant just doesn’t make sense when considering the tradeoffs,” says Dr. Chad Nelsen, Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director. “The air gun blasts will cause massive impacts to marine life and threaten the safety of ocean users, yet only provides minor gains in our existing knowledge about offshore faults and that information won’t actually make us any safer.”

For more information on the Surfrider Foundation’s efforts to stop the proposed seismic testing project in San Luis Obispo and elsewhere, please go to

Categories: Seismic Testing

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