Lieberman calls for international tsunami warnings

Lieberman calls for international tsunami warnings

An extensive, $30 million tsunami warning system proposed yesterday by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) would place several dozen deep-water sensor buoys in the Atlantic and Indian oceans to augment six now operated in the Pacific by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, plus one operated by Chile.

Lieberman's Global Tsunami Detection and Warning System Act would make the State and Commerce departments responsible for filling in the gaps to detect tsunamis worldwide.

Limited to tsunami warnings, the proposal falls short of the scope of NOAA chief Conrad Lautenbacher's Global Ocean Sensing System.

'New and better sensors have been developed and could be deployed at a reasonable cost,' Lieberman said in an announcement. Next-generation sensor buoys could work both ways, so that ground stations could query them instead of merely receiving ocean-floor pressure readings via one of NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.

The bill calls for building a real-time Tsunami Forecasting System in cooperation with other coastal nations and international organizations. In addition, it would establish U.S. measurement, forecasting and communication systems at NOAA's existing Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Center.

The new buoys would cost $250,000 to $267,000 each, the statement said; 40 to 50 of them for global deployment would run about $10 million for hardware. A proposed initial appropriation of $30 million would cover hardware and other costs.

Although Atlantic tsunamis are relatively rare, some scientists believe the precarious Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands could erupt and collapse into the Atlantic, unleashing a mega-tsunami against the U.S. East Coast.

Four bills have been introduced in the new 109th Congress to aid Asia's tsunami victims, but as yet there is no House counterpart to Lieberman's bill.

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