Although environmentalists persuaded the California Coastal Commission to reject a seismic study they said would harm marine life, that doesn't mean a similar study proposed for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station faces the same fate.
A spokeswoman for Southern California Edison cited several key differences between Edison's study and Pacific Gas & Electric's proposal to analyze earthquake faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Central California.
"Our plans are not finalized yet," said Edison's Jennifer Manfre. "We have a different plan and we're looking at a different area."
For Diablo Canyon, scientists were planning to map earthquake faults with high-decibel sound cannons that shoot audio waves into the ocean floor, according to KPBS.
Fishermen and environmentalists showed up in force at the Coastal Commission's Wednesday meeting to oppose the plan, saying the sound waves would harm or kill marine life, especially whales and dolphins that rely on SONAR-like songs to navigate and communicate.
Manfre said the Coastal Commission would consider the SCE study, set to be conducted by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, as a separate issue. Initial plans for the SCE study indicate it would have less impact than the rejected PG&E one, she said.
First, marine mammal migratory patterns are different around the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Second, the San Onofre study would require fewer sound cannons and would be less intrusive, Manfre said.
Also, a large part of the study would analyze existing data using more advanced software, a process that doesn't require scientists to leave their labs, she said.
Either way, the study has been postponed because the plant has been shut down since January because of faulty components, KPBS reports.
The California Public Utilities Commission has allocated $64 million statewide for seismic studies it asserts are needed to make sure plants around the state will be safe in the event of earthquakes.