The Yahoo News , 12 June 2006

Relocation of tsunami center irks group

WASHINGTON - Plans to relocate the Pacific

Tsunami Warning Center to Ford Island in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor are drawing criticism from an organization of environmental scientists.

The center should be moved to higher ground away from the danger of giant waves, not to an island only a few feet above sea level, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility argued Monday.

The tsunami center is currently located at Ewa Beach where it could be damaged by a great wave.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration is consolidating its facilities in Hawaii, including the tsunami center, to Ford Island, a Navy complex.

"The tsunami warning center has critical duties to perform after the first wave hits, including monitoring for aftershocks and additional, larger waves," PEER executive Jeff Ruch said in a statement. "By putting the tsunami warning center on a harbor island, NOAA is tending its own bureaucratic turf at the expense of public safety."

But William Broglie, chief administrative officer of NOAA, countered that the agency has been careful to select a safe site for the tsunami center and other facilities such as the weather service and ocean and fisheries services.

"We will have 500 people there, so we want to be very careful about not putting them in a heightened risk situation," he said.

Broglie said records over the past century show maximum wave heights at the island, which is in a protected location, have not exceeded one foot above sea level. In addition, he said, the agency is contemplating placing the tsunami center on the top floor of a three-story building which would be constructed to resist tropical storm winds and wind-driven debris.