SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Plans to use powerful air cannons in an undersea seismic study near a Central California nuclear power plant have federal and state officials juggling concerns over marine life with public safety.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. wants to use big air guns to emit sound waves into marine reserves to make three-dimensional maps of fault zones, some of which were discovered in 2008, near its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

A state study found the project could have “unavoidable adverse effects” on marine life and the environment.

Biologists, environmental groups and fishermen have opposed using the high-energy air guns, saying the blasts have potential to harm endangered whales and other creatures frequenting these waters.

The company says there is no evidence of major damage from similar tests conducted elsewhere.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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