Thousands of businesses come together to prevent seismic testing for offshore drilling

WPDE-TV (Florence/Myrtle Beach SC)
September 13, 2016

By Erin MacPherson

Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — After much debate, offshore drilling was banned off the Atlantic Coast. However, seismic testing was not.

Seismic testing can lead to offshore drilling. That’s why thousands of businesses came together Monday to stop this testing before it could even start and create the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.

“We were able to put together a new organization that will start advocating immediately for the federal government not to issue permits for seismic testing off the Atlantic coast,” said Frank Knapp, President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses from New Jersey to Georgia came to North Myrtle Beach to participate.

“Healthy oceans is important to everybody. People that live here, people that visit, we all need to pay attention to what’s going on as far as the push for seismic testing because, seismic testing, they’re going to eventually drill,” said Sandra Bundy, Real Estate Broker in Murrells Inlet for B&P Incorporated.

They plan to recruit more businesses and then go to Congress. If you would like to join their fight, call Knapp at 803-252-5733.

Richard Viso, professor at Coastal Carolina University in the School of the Coastal Environment, said seismic testing helps people learn what’s underground, like if there’s oil or gas. That’s done through vibrations.

It’s a “geophysical surveying technique where you put a sonic impulse into the earth. It vibrates and the vibration comes back in the form of echoes,” Viso said. “It’s a large amount of acoustic energy. It’s a sonic boom.”

Since seismic testing sends vibrations through the water, studies have been done to see how it impacts marine life.

“The concern is with the initial impulse that the instrument would put into the water column and the effect of that impulse on marine life,” said Viso.

According to Viso, more studies need to be made to determine the true and full impact. However, he did say there is always a trade-off between damage done and knowledge gained.

Viso said a marine mammal observer is required to tag along when seismic testing is being done.

“This is a person that goes on ship with the surveying crew and keeps a watch out for marine mammals. If they see a whale or animals like that, they suspend the survey operations and alter course,” said Viso.

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