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.”


8 Comments

  1. WiseGuy says:

    The citizenship of SLO County is so darn WEAK. People from all parts of the political spectrum should be outraged by this pre-planned rape of our coast. If they get away with this, they know they can do ANYTHING.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. celebratepaso says:

    There is no way to adequately measure what these earthquake faults are capable of producing. The Diablo Canyon plant can sit there thinking it’s ready for a 9.0 quake and still not be adequate. So put the money into retrofitting the plant instead of wasting money on unncessary testing that will do more harm than good!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  3. Francesca Bolognini says:

    No test is currently available that will guarantee that we will not have a seismic event of 9 or above in the proposed test area. I questioned Supervisor Gibson to his face and he admitted that this was so. That being the case, the only move that would insure our safety would be to CLOSE THE PLANT.

    The proposed tests would, however, let PG&E ( a monopoly owned primarily by the Rothchild family) off the hook in the event of a disaster, allow them a nifty profit on the cost of the tests, due to their guaranteed rate of return status, and tell them exactly where to find oil.

    There have been about 5 tsunami events along the coast in question, measuring 50-100′ , occurring in the time since we have had newspapers in the area. You can research them in said publications. Since some of these events seemed to have been caused by underwater landslides, would it not be wiser NOT to bombard the area with high level sound?

    No, this is not about safety, or reliability of tests, it is about money. And the people in question are willing to destroy our coast to get it. There is ample international evidence of what these tests will do to the wildlife. Once our coast is sterilized, which will devastate our local economy, what is to stop the drilling? Please let us not leave these decisions up to former oil company reps and politicos ,like town mayors, who are still in the pay of the likes of PG&E.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. morpheus says:

    Blakeslee’ comment is most interesting:

    “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.”

    The reality is that ultimately, stresses on these large faults are accumulating silently, relentlessly and remorselessly without regard for our limited abilities to map faults and characterize future seismic events.

    This test will not make the plant safer, nor will it guarantee that a seismic event will not exceed the design capacity of the plant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  5. arsenalwilson says:

    @BeenThere

    I don’t know who “they” are that you refer to, but there are many alternatives to turning the central coast into an underwater desert under the guise of safety. If safety was the primary concern, the plant would be shut down altogether. But safety is not the only force at play here, PG&E wants return on their investment.

    Understanding a shutdown is unlikely, the testing should be cancelled while other alternatives are considered. PG&E customers are paying for the testing no matter what, so as a customer I will happily pay more for a less invasive test.

    I relocated to the Central Coast because I thought people here understand the inherent value to our natural environment. I’m shocked to see anyone support the merciless rape of the ocean so many of the residents here count on for employment, recreation, and well-being.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Well first off the they would be the board of supervisors. That is what the article I was reading above and commenting on was in regard to. Here maybe this line will help from the article……

      “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.”

      Hmm that sounds like wanting it both ways?????????

      I was and am commenting on the fact that they are going to have to chose one or the other. We DO NOT presently have any other way to test for the fault as effect as this. I am NOT saying I am in favor one way or the other, just that they can’t have their cake and eat it to. They are going to have to make a tough choice one way or the other. Thought I made that pretty clear in my post. Guess not???

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I see this as a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. They don’t want to use this technology to test for the fault’s. Fine. But they also want to map out the fault as best as possible. Well you either map it with this for best results or you use lesser technology to map it. You can’t have it both ways (at this present time). They are going to have to pick one or the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

    • celebratepaso says:

      They have made their choice and it’s to go with the current suggested testing. They are asking for certain conditions to be met and then they’ll be happy to see the testing go ahead. That’s why the SLO Tribune headline this morning was so misleading; the supervisors made it perfectly clear that they are NOT opposed to the testing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

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