Apr 11, 2012 8:33 PM by Nancy Chen

Coastal Commission approves seismic testing near Diablo Canyon

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is now another step closer to seismic testing. On Wednesday, the California Coastal Commission approved PG&E's plans to put six seismic monitoring devices on the ocean floor near the plant.

The mission to see what potential dangers the Hosgri and Shoreline faults could pose to Diablo Canyon. It's a project anti-nuclear activists and local lawmakers have been demanding for from PG&E, especially since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster. But not everyone is happy.

The Coastal Commission says there could be damage to the ocean floor and that commercial fishing could be potentially hit hard. Several Morro Bay commercial fisherman expressed concern about the monitors.

"There's fishermen that won't be able to fish during the seismic period at all," said Tom Roff, a commercial fisherman in Morro Bay. "And then, a lot of the tests that have gone on in the past, fish stopped biting when the air cannons go off."

There is also concern the monitoring devices will snarl fishing equipment.

"Hooks and traps, and they catch on the monitoring gear so you know they're not going to want you anywhere near their monitoring gear," Roff said. "And that's other areas you won't be able to fish."

PG&E has offered to donate about $34,000 to the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project as compensation. Roff says that's petty cash.

"Not enough money," Roff said. "To recover lost fishing gear? Oh God. They're going to cost us millions."

There will be six monitors in all; four will be on the sea floor for at least ten years, and the two others will be there for about a month.

PG&E, however, says it does not believe there will be any long-term impacts.

The company said in a statement, "PG&E recognizes the concerns expressed by local fishermen and we are committed to working with them. We continue to have ongoing, meaningful discussions with commercial fishermen to address their concerns. A number of mitigation measures will be put in place to minimize any impacts to marine wildlife. These measures range from the timing of the survey - which will be conducted outside the gray whale migration period and during lower abundance of fish - to having on-board marine mammal observers, and aerial surveys. We believe no long-term impacts will occur and hopeful that we will secure all of the necessary permits to move forward with these important studies."

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