NEWPORT BEACH ( — An estimated 750,000 people would face evacuation and boats in Southland marinas and statewide would be damaged or lost in the event of a major tsunami, according to a report released Wednesday.

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The “SAFRR (Science Application for Risk Reduction) Tsunami Scenario” (PDF) from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is based on what experts described as a “hypothetical yet plausible scenario” where a pan-Pacific tsunami is created by a hypothetical magnitude-9.1 earthquake from the Alaskan peninsula and extends to the California coast.

Among the predicted effects: mass evacuations of 750,000 people – including 90,000 estimated tourists and visitors – along with economic losses to the region topping $700 million resulting from an estimated one-third of all boats being damaged or completely sunk.

Under the scenario, the Long Beach Convention Center and retail businesses as far north as Ocean Boulevard would likely be inundated. In Orange County, Newport Beach and much of the Balboa Peninsula would also likely see partial or complete flooding, according to the report.

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The report also concluded that neither the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Clemente nor the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo would be likely damaged by this particular event.

“The good news is that three-quarters of California’s coastline is cliffs, and thus immune to the harsher and more devastating impacts tsunamis could pose,” said Dr. Lucy Jones, who is the USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction and leads the SAFRR Project. “The bad news is that the one-quarter at risk is some of the most economically valuable property in California.”

The report also warned even distant tsunamis can lead to billions of dollars in losses for the state, citing the tsunami that followed the devastating magnitude 9.1 Tohoku earthquake in Japan in March 2011 that swept through California and caused as much as $100 million in damages.

USGS scientists plan to discuss the report’s findings to stakeholders in coastal communities statewide as part of a public workshop series starting Sept. 4.

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