Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) has announced his intention to introduce
legislation to create a global tsunami warning system, which he estimated would
cost $30 million or less.
"A couple of relatively
inexpensive sensor buoys and a satellite for them to talk to could have provided
the warning the people of Sri Lanka, Thailand and other nations needed to
evacuate before the wall of water was literally pounding down their doors,"
In a fact sheet issued Jan. 6, Lieberman said the United States currently has
six pressure sensors embedded in various areas of the ocean floor which
relay acoustic signals to floating buoys, which in turn upload the signals to
satellites. Three of these National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
sensors are near Alaska, one is near Washington, another near Oregon, and the
sixth is south of the equator. Another sensor in the system was deployed by
The senator and one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate said another
40-50 buoys, costing between $250,000 and $267,000 each, would provide worldwide
coverage. Currently only 18 countries, including Indonesia and
Thailand—which were hard-hit by the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami—are receiving
warnings via the International Tsunami Information Center.
Lieberman said his "Global Tsunami Detection and Warning System Act"
would direct the State and Commerce Departments to work with other nations
"to fill the gaps in the system to detect tsunamis worldwide,"
instruct the administration to deploy between 40 and 50 new high tech sensors
and to develop land based infrastructure in the United States to process the
signals from the global system. —Donald H. Harrison