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Christensen Cosponsors Tsunami Warning Center Bill


V.I. Delegate Donna M. Christensen cosponsored a bill this week to establish a third national tsunami warning center, to be located in Puerto Rico.

Christensen and other members of Congress joined with Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi Tuesday to introduce a bill directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish the center.

“In light of the recent devastation in Japan and as our country helps the Japanese people to recover and rebuild, this is the time to also focus on the dangers that tsunamis pose to our nation and take the necessary and vital steps to mitigate those risks,” said Christensen. “I was more than willing to sign on as a cosponsor of this legislation to improve tsunami detection and warnings in the United States and our Caribbean region.”

The bill would amend the Tsunami Warning and Education Act to direct the NOAA administrator, through the National Weather Service, to establish, maintain, and operate a Caribbean tsunami forecast and warning center in Puerto Rico.

Pierluisi envisions locating the center at the existing U.S. Geological Survey-funded Puerto Rico Seismic Network at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and having the primary detection and warning responsibility for the Caribbean region, which is especially vulnerable to tsunamis generated by submarine landslides and volcanic eruption. Currently, there are only two tsunami warning centers in the United States, both in the Pacific region.

In addition to Christensen, the bill was introduced with the support of Representatives Edward Markey, D-Mass, the lead Democratic on the Committee on Natural Resources; Steve Rothman, D-N.J.; José Serrano, D-N.Y; and delegates from the other three American territories, Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands).

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.


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