Supervisors request PG&E meet more conditions on seismic testing
October 31, 2012
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to write a letter to the California Coastal Commission asking the agency to address several concerns relating to PG&E’s proposed seismic testing before approving the project.
Members of the community spoke before the board for several hours, mostly requesting the supervisors to do everything within their power to stop the planned high-energy survey off the coast of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. While the supervisors do not have any regulatory authority over the project, they did vote unanimously in favor of writing a letter to the Coastal Commission opposing the project as currently proposed.
The commission will meet November 14 in Santa Monica to determine whether or not to give PG&E its approval. If the Coastal Commission issues a permit for the project, the seismic testing will begin shortly after.
But, the supervisors will request that the Coastal Commission not rush to approve the project.
“I question the immediacy of doing this,” Supervisor Jim Patterson said. There doesn’t appear to be a need to do this right now.”
In August, the supervisors authored a letter to the State Lands Commission requesting that certain conditions be met before approving the project. The board agreed Tuesday that PG&E still has not met those conditions and decided to request that the Coastal Commission address those concerns and others.
The supervisors will ask the commission to assure that more analysis of the project occurs, specifically substantiating the impacts to marine life, as well as to humans. Likewise, the supervisors will request the Coastal Commission to assure that commercial interests in the area of the testing receive adequate compensation from PG&E.
While the supervisors stated many concerns about the environmental and financial impact of the proposed seismic testing, they did agree to include in the letter that they support the long-term study of earthquake hazard.
Supervisor Adam Hill said the board is merely opposing the testing as currently proposed and that rejecting the project altogether could put the community at risk.
“I don’t know that this is really in the long-term interests of our community safety,” Hill said. “It’s a difficult position, but that’s why we get the big money.”
Hill also said that many of the public’s concerns about environmental impacts of the study were “overly exaggerative.”
Supervisor Bruce Gibson agreed.
“I think that the most dire descriptions of what a seismic survey would do to the environment are not realistic,” Gibson said.
Nevertheless the supervisors did not share the sense of urgency about the project voiced by State Senator Sam Blakeslee, who spoke at the beginning of public comment. Blakeslee, who authored legislation in the Assembly that directed the state to assess the seismic risk to its two nuclear plants, said the PG&E study must proceed despite concerns.
“I believe history will not be kind to our memory if we let this opportunity slip through our fingers,” Blakeslee said. “Year after year the stresses on these large faults are accumulating silently, relentlessly and remorselessly without regard for our out of date engineering assumptions or our slow and weak regulatory processes.”