FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking comment on the impact on seals and sea lions of a California Department of Transportation proposal for modification of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The CALTRANS is currently in the planning stages of the East Span Seismic Safety Project for the Oakland Bay Bridge. The demonstration project would include driving large piles into the Bay bottom. One of the hammers anticipated to be used for this task is larger than any pile-driving hammer previously used in San Francisco Bay. Due to the untested nature of these hammers in the Bay, a pile installation demonstration is needed to determine whether a small number of Pacific harbor seals and California sea lions may be disturbed.
The demonstration project will provide CALTRANS with an opportunity to measure resulting sound pressure levels, both in air and under water, record possible impacts to marine mammals, and experiment with measures to reduce potential harm to marine mammals prior to general use on the piles. As the demonstration project may potentially result in disturbance of seals and sea lions in the vicinity of the test, an application to NOAA for an incidental harassment authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act has been filed.
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has preliminarily determined that this activity will not result in more than the incidental harassment of small numbers of harbor seals and possibly California sea lions, and would have only a negligible impact on these species.
NOAA Fisheries will accept comments on
the application and proposed authorization through Feb. 7, 2000.
Comments should be addressed to Donna Wieting, Chief, Marine
Mammal Conservation Division, Office
of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver
Spring, MD 20910-3225. A copy of the application may obtained
by contacting the same office.