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Final Application Approved For Seismic Surveys Off NC Coast

International Association of Geophysical Contractors

The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management has approved the last of four applications from companies interested in conducting seismic surveys off the coast. Sarah Finch has more.

The most recent consistency submission came from Norwegian surveying company TGS. As the proposed surveys will take place in federal waters, state approval alone does not permit the company to begin surveying. It does show that these survey plans are consistent with state coastal regulations. Coastal Management Spokesperson Michelle Walker says that all four companies have more hurdles to clear before they can start conducting surveys.

“They still have to obtain their federal permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Fishery Service, so that will take them a bit of time. It’s really difficult to say exactly when they’ll start.”

Seismic surveys use sonar to map out the ocean floor and can indicate the locations of underground deposits of natural gas. Walker says some people fear that the seismic rays used to conduct the surveys may harm marine life.

“There have been concerns about the sound waves disturbing marine life, particularly mammals, whales and seals. Any of the mammals that use sound waves to communicate, and also their effects on fisheries.”

On top of whatever regulations the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Fishery Service will impose, Walker says the Coastal Management division has established their own restrictions on the surveys.

“The primary restriction that we have placed upon them is that we’re requiring a pre-survey meeting from all four of the companies that have proposed to do the surveys with representatives of the state divisions of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management so that we can look at their precise survey transects and the timing - so that we can try to avoid and mitigate any possible impacts or conflicts with fisheries’ resources.”

The four approved companies are TGS, Spectrum Geo Incorporated, GX Technology, and CCG Services. I’m Sarah Finch.

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.