BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





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          |                                                                 |
          |         SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER         |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2013-2014 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |
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          BILL NO: SB 135                    HEARING DATE: April 23, 2013
          AUTHOR: Padilla                    URGENCY: No
          VERSION: April 2, 2013             CONSULTANT: Leonardo Scherer  
          Alves  
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes
          SUBJECT: Earthquake early warning system.
          
          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          The California Geological Survey is located in the Department of  
          Conservation and its mission is to provide scientific products  
          and services about the state's geology, seismology and mineral  
          resources that affect the health, safety, and business interests  
          of the people of California.

          California is the second most seismically active state in the  
          country. The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast  
          (UCERF) forecasts a 99.7% chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger  
          earthquake in the state during the next 30 years. The chance of  
          an even greater quake of magnitude 7.5 or greater is 46%, over  
          the same period of time.  California's last significant  
          earthquake was the 1994 Northridge event which caused tremendous  
          damage, including 57 fatalities.

          Some places, known for high seismic activity such as Japan,  
          Turkey, Mexico, and Taiwan already have early warning systems.   
          Japan is the only country with a nationwide public warning  
          system, and the others have local systems. Other places, such as  
          China, are currently developing similar systems. Unfortunately  
          these systems seem to only be implemented after a killer  
          earthquake strikes. All these detection systems are based upon  
          the finding that the first waves emanating from the epicenter of  
          the earthquake, primary waves (P-waves), cause less damage but  
          travel faster than the slower and damage-causing secondary waves  
          (S-waves). Therefore, through taking advantage of this feature  
          in conjunction with a large network of seismic sensors, a  
          warning signal could be sent before the arrival of the damaging  
          S-waves. 
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          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would require the Office of Emergency Services, in  
          collaboration with the California Institute of Technology  
          (Caltech), the California Geological Survey, the University of  
          California Berkeley, the United States Geological Survey, and  
          others, to develop a comprehensive statewide earthquake early  
          warning system in California.
          
          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          According to the author "while earthquakes cannot be predicated  
          or prevented, using advanced science and technology we can  
          detect seismic activity to provide an advanced warning, save  
          lives and help mitigate damage."

          "California currently has the California Integrated Seismic  
          Network (CISN), which is a demonstration earthquake early  
          warning system.  A fully developed system would process data  
          from an array of sensors throughout the state.  The system would  
          effectively detect the strength and the progression of  
          earthquakes, alert the public within seconds and provide up to  
          60 seconds advanced warning before potentially damaging ground  
          shaking is felt."

          "Earthquake early warning systems not only alert the public,  
          they also speed the response of police, fire and other safety  
          personnel by quickly identifying areas hardest hit by the  
          quake."

          COMMENTS 
           This bill is a work-in-progress  .  Should the bill be  
          substantially amended in the future and should it pass this  
          committee, the committee may wish to re-hear the bill.

           Benefits of an early warning system (and limitations).
           Early warning system can be used in a variety for examples such  
          as slowing or stopping trains, warning airplane pilots and avoid  
          take-offs and landings, and closing bridges. This system also  
          could be used in industry and businesses to slow or stop  
          production lines, moving employees to safe areas, stopping  
          potentially dangerous procedures and securing dangerous areas.   
          In hospital such system would prevent a series of accidents  
          during operations and surgeries. It has been shown that a  
          warning signal of as little as 30 seconds is enough to activate  
          many automatic response systems and reduce significantly the  
          number of casualties and financial losses caused by the tremors.  
           The "big one" over the San Andreas fault possibly will give Los  
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          Angeles 45 seconds warning - which could be critical in  
          minimizing damages.

          However, earthquakes cannot be predicted; therefore, by  
          definition, there will be always blind zones. With technology  
          advancement the size of the blind zone will continue to decrease  
          but the people located immediately above the epicenter will  
          always feel the tremors just seconds after it starts.  
          Individuals further away from the epicenter will have more time  
          to prepare.  Further, a decision must be made to determine what  
          magnitude that would trigger sending a message to the general  
          public. Small tremors would create unnecessary chaos and using  
          such system for minor quakes should be minimized. 

           California's current system  .
          Currently California has 300 sensors in place but hundreds more  
          are needed, this will aid the detections of the early signs of a  
          rupture and the collected data also will allow operators to  
          determine the precise location and severity of the quake.   
          California can use the current seismic network making the  
          development of a robust, fully operational early warning system  
          in California to cost only a fraction of the one in Japan. The  
          author's office estimates the cost to be $16 million a year for  
          a period of 5 years. 

           Other countries' experience
           Japan spent $600 million dollars to build a system from the  
          ground up. Japan's early warning system was developed after the  
          1995 Kobe earthquake that killed over 6,400 people. Mexico  
          developed its system after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake; this  
          8.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 10,000 people. 

          The Japanese success story springs from the partnership of  
          public and private early warning systems. Japan Railways, a  
          nationwide railway network, has had its own system for over 20  
          years. Although the current bill allows for participation by the  
          private sector, it may be beneficial to include the intent to  
          create these private and public sector partnerships explicitly.




           Related legislation
          AB 928 (Blakeslee) 2009-10 Session  would have required the  
          High-Speed Rail Authority to develop an earthquake early warning  
          system and coordinate development of that system with public  
          partners in order to protect infrastructure and public safety.   
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          (Held in Assembly policy committee at author's request)
           
          AB 1374 (Liu) 2005-06 Session.   would have extended the  
          assessment that supports the  
          Seismic Safety Commission through July 1, 2013.  (Vetoed -  
          Governor's message stated, "Since we are reviewing how best to  
          use the expertise the Commission provides, it is premature to  
          extend the assessment that supports the Commission through  
          2013.")
           
          SB 1049 (Budget Committee), Chapter 741, Statutes 2003  .   
          established the authority through July 1, 2007 that Seismic  
          Safety Account funds may be used to fund activities of the  
          Seismic Safety Commission and related activities.  This was a  
          shift from the use of a mixture of money from the General Fund,  
          seismic bond funds and reimbursement which had been used prior  
          to 2003.

          SUPPORT
          California Institute of Technology
          City of Bell Gardens
          City of Coalinga
          City of Culver City
          City of Los Angeles
          City of Rancho Cordova
          City of South El Monte
          City of West Hollywood
          County of San Mateo
          Mayor Bill Bogaard of the City of Pasadena
          Mayor Rob Schroder of the City of Martinez
          Town of Los Altos Hills
          University of California
          University of California, Berkeley

          OPPOSITION
          None Received











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