Capitol Alert

California earthquake early warning system gets boost

In this Oct. 19, 1989 file photo, workers check the damage to Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., after it collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake.
In this Oct. 19, 1989 file photo, workers check the damage to Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., after it collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake. AP

Saying it could “potentially save lives,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation to expedite California’s development of a system to provide advance warning of earthquakes.

“We’ve seen the devastation earthquakes have caused in California,” Brown said in a statement. “This keeps us on track to build a statewide warning system.”

With Brown’s signature on Senate Bill 438, California will have to compile a business plan for the project by early 2018. Similar systems in Japan, Turkey and Mexico use sensors to detect shaking seconds or minutes before it reaches an area, allowing for emergency shutdowns of critical infrastructure and the public to take cover.

The bill creates a California Earthquake Early Warning Program and Advisory Board to move the effort along. It will also ease financing by lifting a prohibition on using General Fund dollars for the statewide system, which is estimated to cost $28 million. This year’s budget allocated $10 million to bolster a pilot program called ShakeAlert.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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