Locals speak out against coastal seismic testing

Locals speak out against coastal seismic testing

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Voices are being heard over potential seismic testing off the Carolina shores. A meeting was held with several people who are against oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic. Some of those topics surfaced at Monday's presidential debate and some say those decisions could greatly affect them.

"This election is really critical for our being able to keep our beaches clean safe and protected from offshore oil and gas," said Peg Howell.

Howell says she knows a thing or two about offshore drilling and was one of the first women to run an oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico. She's now focused on keeping the Atlantic coast free of drilling, and that includes seismic testing.

"As a small business owner we're concerned for a variety of reasons. If you're associated with the tourism economy, obviously you're concerned that there could be a spill, and the onshore infrastructure that goes with offshore drilling would deter people from coming here," said Howell.

The Obama administration reversed its decision earlier this summer and took Atlantic offshore drilling off the table, however seismic testing is still an option.

"In the ocean, seismic testing involves firing an air gun that just puts a blast of air into the water that makes a loud noise. It bubbles basically. And that loud noise is a vibration." said Marine Geology professor, Rich Viso.

Viso says while there are some concerns with seismic testing, it can have other uses.

"In the prices of doing so uncovering answers to questions about what was the paleo environment like. Are there indications of global climate change? And that sort of information. That would definitely not be about drilling and more about learning about the environment on our continental shelves."

Howell says while that research is beneficial, the threat to marine life and other businesses such as fishing would be in jeopardy on a larger scale.

"There's maybe one seismic line run when they're doing research. We're talking about over 660,000 species that are going to be impacted and almost the diameter of the earth four times over in the amount of seismic line that are going to be run. So the numbers and the intensity of he seismic that they want to run, is overwhelming." said Howell.

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