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LAX, Metrolink Test Earthquake Early Warning Systems To Shut Down Fuel, Stop Trains Before Shaking Starts

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Did you feel that? If you're at LAX in the event of an earthquake, a new early warning system should give travelers a few seconds of warning before the shaking even starts.

The early warning system at one of the world's busiest airports will monitor for earthquake activity through the U.S. Geological Survey's ShakeAlert, which is linked to seismic sensors.

lax emergency notification
(credit: LAWA)

When it comes online sometime in 2022, the system will automatically trigger emergency notifications to terminals, where passengers will be alerted. The pilot project will also explore the possibility of automatically shut down LAX's airport fuel hydrant system to help prevent jet fuel from flowing during an earthquake.

"We know it's not a question of if, but rather when, the next earthquake will hit, and the ability to offer even a few precious seconds of warning can make a difference in helping to save lives and property," LAWA CEO Justin Erbacci said in a statement.

The system will be tested at one of LAX's terminals using $150,000 from the city's Innovation and Performance Commission.

Metrolink is also using the ShakeAlert network to ensure the safe and rapid halt of trains in the event of an earthquake. The technology is being deployed along the 91/Perris Valley Line between Perris and Riverside, in partnership with Caltrans. The initial deployment of the system will take ShakeAlert data to send notifications to train crews in areas impacted by an earthquake. Developers hope to Positive Train Control to Metrolink's system at a later date so a train can be slowed or stopped even ground shaking is felt.

BART, the commuter rail service in Northern California, has been using and testing the technology for a year now, Metrolink officials said.

ShakeAlert, which is available as a smartphone app, is an earthquake early warning system that alerts users that an earthquake has been detected and shaking is imminent.

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