Senate passes bill to upgrade volcano monitoring system

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Thursday secured passage in the Senate of the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act.

The measure would improve the nation’s volcano monitoring and early warning capabilities.

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Hirono secured it with fellow Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Washington. The bill next needs approval from the House.

“Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are working around the clock to provide critical, up-to-date information to keep Hawaii Island residents safe,” Hirono said in a news release. “This bipartisan bill supports their important efforts by updating and unifying the five volcano observatories across the nation and creating a grant program to support monitoring research and technology development.”

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The bill would improve the nation’s volcano monitoring and early warning capabilities at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Alaska Volcano Observatory and Cascades Volcano Observatory. It would unify the observatories into a single connected system called the National Volcano Early Warning System.

The bill also would create a Volcano Watch Office to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The office would provide continuous situational awareness of all active volcanoes in the country, including the ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano.

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