Feinstein Secures Funding for Earthquake Upgrades to VA Facilities
President Obama today signed legislation to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs through the next fiscal year. The bill included Senator Feinstein's (D-Calif.) amendment to allow critical seismic-safety upgrades to VA facilities in California to proceed. Senator Feinstein previously secured funding for these projects in last year's spending bill. However, the department was unable to spend the money due to a technical requirement that all major VA projects must also be approved by the Veterans' Affairs committees.
"California's VA facilities remain seriously vulnerable to the next big earthquake," said Senator Feinstein. "Many of the buildings were built before modern seismic safety standards were developed. Making sure our veterans are protected in an earthquake is a top priority for me, and I will keep pushing for more funding until all of California's VA facilities are safe."
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is a greater than 99 percent chance that California will be hit by a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake within the next 30 years. It also reports that California's risk of being struck by a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake has increased by nearly 50 percent since the agency completed its last estimate in 2008.
A 6.6 earthquake struck near San Fernando in 1971, destroying the VA's San Fernando hospital. The earthquake killed 30 veterans and 10 employees at the hospital, accounting for the majority of the fatalities that occurred during the disaster.