Funding for early earthquake warning system in doubt - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Funding for early earthquake warning system in doubt

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Scientists continue to make progress on an early earthquake warning system for California, but funding is in doubt.

President Trump is shaking things up with a proposal to slash funding for the Project Zero.

Last week, an early warning alert warned people to take cover before a 7.2 earthquake shook the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

In San Diego, an early warning earthquake system called “Shake Alert” would rely on seismic sensors like the one at the top of Mt. Soledad, but it is still being built.

Four other countries: Japan, Taiwan, Turkey and China, have early warning earthquake systems, but not the United States.

The United States Geological survey estimates the West coast has about 850 earthquake sensors, which is only half the number needed plus $60 million to set the whole system up. The system would cover Washington State, Oregon and California.

The USGS said there is enough federal and state money to continue to develop the system until the end of 2018, but beyond it remains unclear.

The president of the United States has proposed zero out nearly $13 million in funding for earthquake warnings.

“This happened before. Last year, they zeroed it out and on a very bipartisan basis. This Congress said ‘nope,’” said Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California).

This is an early alert system that could warn people a minute or sooner in the event of an earthquake. It would be enough time to have operators to stop servicing elevators.

“We are not going to stop the earthquakes. They will occur, but we can make buildings safer and we can make the people safer,” said David Croker, USGS.

Scientists said once California's early alert earthquake system is up and running it will take $16 million each year to maintain.

Scripps Institute seismologist said the United States needs a much faster cellphone network to handle the earthquake alerts.

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