MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Grand Strand business owner says if seismic testing occurs off the South Carolina coast, thousands of animals will be killed as a result.
“We have no history at all in this area with the oil industry except for the gas stations, that’s it," said Cpt. Mark Collins, owner of Blue Wave Adventure Dolphin Watch. "That’s all the people here really know about what’s coming with this. It’s dirty and it’s dangerous.”
Collins says he grew up in Oklahoma and was one of many members of his family who worked in the oil industry. He says that gives him first-hand knowledge of the proposed testing and oil digging. He disagrees with purpose of the testing.
“Seismic testing does not find oil. It does not. When they send these pulses down they will penetrate the water column up to 18,000 feet deep,” Collins said. “These pulses go down, strike the sediment and the geology underneath the ocean.”
He says this geographical information is then compared to areas where oil has been found, giving them an idea if there is the possibility of oil under the surface.
Collins says research shows seismic airguns that are used to attempt to find oil and gas underneath the ocean floor are so loud they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies.
“Seismic testing is the minute we flip that switch, we are killing animals," Collins said. "That’s bluntly put, that’s what’s going to happen. They are estimating five or six boats that will get these permits and each one of them has assessed in the permits that around 100,000 animals are going to die per boat in this testing.”
A member of Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic, also known as SODA, believes once the testing is done oil rigs will soon be built along the coast.
“Seismic testing is the first step and if they do seismic, 100 percent of the time they do drilling. It’s not just let’s see what’s out there," SODA team member Sandra Bundy said. "We’ve already said we don’t want to drill so we don’t even need to think about running seismic.”
She says boats performing the seismic testing will be allowed to come within three miles of the shore and if they come, people on Grand Strand beaches will be able to see the boats up to six miles off shore on a clear day.
“Our whole foundation of our state is built off of this beach and off of this coastline and not having industrialization of the coastline," Bundy said. "So the recreational users, the fishermen, the tourist, I just couldn’t imagine them wanting to come here.”