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Comprehensive Earthquake Warning System Moves Closer to Fruition

The system will provide up to 60 seconds advance notice of an earthquake striking if lawmakers allow it to be fully developed, says advocate.

By City News Service

A bill by a Southland lawmaker to require full development of a comprehensive statewide earthquake early warning system moved closer Friday to a vote by the Legislature.

SB 135 calls for the state to move forward on an earthquake warning system that would process data from an array of sensors throughout the state, detect the strength and the progression of a temblor, alert the public within seconds and provide up to 60 seconds advanced warning before potentially damaging ground shaking is felt.

California presently has a demonstration model called the California Integrated Seismic Network. SB 135 would fully develop that system, which worked successfully in March, providing a 30-second warning to seismologists of a 4.7-magnitude temblor centered in the Riverside County desert, according to Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima.

Padilla's bill SB 135, was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will now go to the Assembly floor.

"A fully developed earthquake early warning alert system will provide Californians critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones or pull over safely to the side of the road," he said. "It could allow time to stop a train and power down other critical infrastructure. The bottom line is that it will save lives."

Padilla said that in terms of earthquakes in California, "it is not a matter of if, but when. With today's vote, the state Legislature is one step closer to providing Californians a warning before a quake is felt."

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