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Proposal would create California earthquake warning system

  • California State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, reaches to point at a graphic describing how an earthquake warning system might work, as Dr. Douglas Given of the U.S. Geological Survey watches, at a news conference to announce legislation to create an earthquake early warning system for California, similar to those in Japan and elsewhere, in the Seismological Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

PASADENA — Californians could have critical seconds to seek safety or shut down important systems before the onset of damaging shaking under legislation introduced Monday to build an $80 million earthquake early warning system.

The bill, outlined by state Sen. Alex Padilla in a press conference at the California Institute of Technology's seismology laboratory, would make the project a state priority. It seeks to identify potential sources of state and federal funding, which Padilla said could be accomplished by August.

The U.S. has been testing warning systems for years but lags behind countries such as Japan and Mexico in implementing the technology to actually warn the public.

Padilla, D-Los Angeles, cited research showing very high probabilities for California to have a large earthquake in the next 30 years.

"We'll have an earthquake warning system, but will it be before or after the next Big One," Padilla said. "I argue that it ought to be before."

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