Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Questions Raised About Efficiency of Tsunami Warning System

A public interest group is raising questions about gaps in the nation’s tsunami warning system.
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the nation’s principal ocean-based tsunami warning system is experiencing large dead zones, and unresolved budget issues could result in even more system outages.

PEER’s executive director Jeff Ruch voiced his concerns March 4 regarding the Deep Ocean Assessment and reporting of Tsunamis (DART) network – part of the nation’s tsunami public safety net.

When asked to respond to those concerns, the US Department of Commerce would say only that that agency is actively working on how to manage the budget cut in a way that protects its core mission to serve the public. Each Commerce bureau is continuing efforts to develop a sequestration plan and these plans are a work in progress, a spokesperson said.

Back in 2008, NOAA completed its DART network of 39 anchored buoy stations covering the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The network serves as the cornerstone of the nation’s tsunami warning system, yet one of every three stations is not functioning, according to PEER.

Average dead periods for non-reporting DART stations exceed six months.

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