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06 January 2005

U.S. Senator Proposes Tsunami Early Warning System

Lieberman wants $30 million investment in global oceanic system

Washington -- Senator Joseph Lieberman says he will urge Congress to back deployment of a system that will extend warning devices for tsunamis into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  Such a system currently exists only in the earthquake-prone Pacific Ocean.

"When nature gives us a warning about a coming disaster - as it did in South Asia - we should be smart enough, and prepared enough, to take it and save many lives as a result," Lieberman said in a statement released by his office.

Indian Ocean nations are still reeling from the devastating impact of a crushing tsunami, but they are looking for ways to avoid being surprised by such a natural disaster again. At a multi-national meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 6, leaders declared that they will pursue development of an early warning system to that evacuation might be possible if such an event recurs. 

Lieberman proposes a system that would employ 40 to 50 ocean-based sensors that would monitor ocean activity, feeding that data back to land-based monitors.  The Lieberman plan also calls for international development and coordination of the system with a $30 million U.S. investment.

Lieberman is introducing the legislation as the Congress begins a new session.  The bill faces a long process of committee hearings, debate in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and presidential approval before it could become law.

For additional information go to “U.S. Response to Tsunami and Earthquake in Asia at:

The text of Lieberman’s press release follows:

(begin text)



[Washington, D.C.]

January 6, 2005

Lieberman Unveils Tsunami Early Warning Legislation

Senator's bill would deploy 40-50 new sensors and fund system at $30 million

WASHINGTON - Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today unveiled legislation to create a global tsunami early warning system, which he plans to introduce as soon as the next Congress begins.

Lieberman said that although the probability is slim, the coasts of the United States are vulnerable to tsunamis and the U.S. currently has a limited tsunami detection and early warning system in place. New and better sensors have been developed and could be deployed at a reasonable cost.

"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," Lieberman said. "Today I am proposing legislation that will close gaps in our present tsunami warning system and establish a global network that will give all the world's coastal communities a chance to evacuate - much like our hurricane and typhoon warning system works today across international boundaries."

"When nature gives us a warning about a coming disaster - as it did in South Asia - we should be smart enough, and prepared enough, to take it and save many lives as a result," Lieberman said.

The Global Tsunami Detection and Warning System Act would instruct the Administration to:

• Procure and deploy between 40 and 50 high-tech ocean-based sensors in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans that can detect potential tsunamis generated by any type of disturbance to provide complete global coverage;

• Coordinate with regional systems in place or under development worldwide;

• Work with cooperating nations and international organizations to develop a Global Tsunami Detection and Warning System using the sensors;

• Implement a real-time Tsunami Forecasting System in cooperation with other coastal nations and international organizations;

• Establish the measurement, forecast, and communication systems needed to receive and process signals from the sensors by building on to existing NOAA centers such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Center.

The legislation would also authorize $30 million for purchasing the sensors and covering U.S. contributions to the international early warning system. The bill builds upon the work of Senators Snowe, Inouye, Stevens and Hatfield in this area.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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