Ventura County's environmental watchdogs

• Taking on the oil industry 
• Campaigning for clean air and water
• Advocating for the health and safety of our residents 

CFROG has built a team of experts to challenge the status quo with facts and commonsense proposals to fight bad projects that hurt our environment and jeopardize our health.

Our success speaks for itself:

    • Won unanimous Board of Supervisors vote for a moratorium to stop new cyclic steam oil drilling activities in the Oxnard Plain in order to protect our water.
    • Fought to successfully deny an expanded oilfield near a low-income community with a high pollution burden.
    • Put oil companies on notice with a long-sought vote by the Board of Supervisors to bring all new projects under modern environmental review.
    • Supported  the inclusion of a robust climate action plan in Ventura County’s new General Plan.
    • Administered a successful community air monitoring program in low-income communities.

  • From the blog

    Petrochem property changes hands

    A company named Palm Road, LLC has purchased the controversial Petrochem property north of Ventura from its longtime owner. But the broad coalition of 13 organizations led by CFROG will keep right on vehemently insisting that this site in the gateway to the beautiful Ojai Valley be put to a use befitting its sensitive river habitat.

    From its inception in the 1950s as a fertilizer manufacturer, to a later use as a refinery for crude oil which processed 20,000 barrels a day and stored hundreds of thousands more in tanks, the property has been controversial and harmful to nearby Ventura Avenue residents and the Ojai Valley airshed.

    Activists, including CFROG and other community groups, packed a small conference room on Oct. 14 to protest the last owner's proposal for the site, an auto and contractor storage yard. Our group, the Petrochem Appeal Alliance (PAA), believes it is time for this ecologically sensitive area to move from polluting uses of the land to those which contribute to sustainable practices and preservation of this valuable natural area.

    We do not know precisely who the new owners are or their intentions for the property, but we are nonetheless glad to see it change hands away from the original owner who allowed a highly polluting operation along the Ventura River.

    The following organizations filed a joint appeal of the decision by the Ventura County Planning Director to approve a transportation and contractor services storage yard for the site:

    Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas
    Environmental Coalition of Ventura County
    Food and Water Action
    Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation
    Friends of the Ventura River
    Ventura Land Trust
    Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation
    California Trout, Inc.
    Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter
    Westside Community Council
    Showing Up for Racial Justice
    Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura
    Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

    CFROG will monitor proposals for this site and advocate for our residents.

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    What comes up must go back down: The dirty story of oilfield and hazardous waste disposal in Ventura County

    Explosions of toxic waste. First responders injured. District Attorney raids. $3.6 million in fines. Company owners indicted. Others flee the country to avoid prosecution. 

    It sounds like a bad TV movie, but it’s the status quo for Ventura County’s two now-shuttered commercial oilfield waste disposal sites, Santa Clara Waste Water and Anterra.

    CFROG has long pointed out the dirty processes involved in oil drilling. When project applications are submitted, permit conditions are violated and regulators hold hearings, we are there with scientific review, legal analysis and public testimony.

    Waste disposal sites deserve special scrutiny. To explain, when oil is extracted a large amount of water comes up with it. This is called “produced water” and it must be disposed of properly. Chemical-laden fluids used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” must also be discarded safely. Some oil operations have injection wells onsite to put this fluid back into the ground. It can also find its way into pits or is recycled. Others must dispose of it offsite.

    At least 15 wastewater injection wells in Ventura County have been under investigation by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board for injection into non-exempt aquifers. These aquifers can be sources of water for human consumption and agricultural uses.

    In Ventura County, both Santa Clara Waste Water and Anterra have accepted oilfield wastes. And both companies have a long history of problems. 

    The Santa Clara Waste Water facility in Santa Paula is the site of a 2014 chemical explosion which left several first responders permanently disabled and unable to work. CFROG was on the scene taking photographs and collecting information from the fire department.

    The company was ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution to the victims and multiple employees of the firm were indicted, convicted or pled guilty on various charges. The facility now has an application to reopen under a new name, but the City of Oxnard has filed multiple objections. CFROG has also filed comments.

    In the proposal to restart the facility, the company wants to use the old 12-mile pipeline to dispose of its toxic waste through the Oxnard Wastewater Treatment Plant.

    Oxnard vehemently protested the application, citing its past detection of radioactive waste from Santa Clara Waste Water in the pipeline  — consistent with oil and gas production — that it is unable to treat. The city also believes its 60-year-old pipeline, now exhibiting significant corrosion, is not sufficient to move the sort of waste the Santa Paula facility discharges. They further point to a proposal to handle a chemical at the facility similar in composition to the one that caused the explosion, and the potential for hazardous waste from the facility to enter Oxnard's drinking and agricultural water supply untreated.

    We are watching this carefully while the county determines whether the application will be scheduled for a hearing.

    Anterra has also been making news. In 2014 the Ventura County District Attorney raided the company’s offices looking for evidence Anterrra had been putting hazardous oilfield waste into its injection wells. It is only permitted for non-hazardous waste, but prosecutors believed the rules were not being followed. CFROG helped reveal some of the practices thanks to a whistleblower who got in touch with us. After the DA filed charges, those criminally involved fled the country, making prosecution difficult. The new operators were fined $500,000 and allowed to operate on a limited basis. Under an agreement, all waste was to be rigorously screened and independently tested.

    The company's permit to operate expired in 2018 and they applied for a new one but a Planning Commission Hearing on the full reopening of the site never happened. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors has also rejected a modification to allow oilfield waste disposal in an agricultural zone. CFROG rallied residents to come out and speak against that proposal.

    The company next ran afoul of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). In May of 2018, Anterra, operating under the new ownership, was cited by DOGGR for injecting waste materials into the ground in one of their wells at a higher pressure than allowed. 

    They were again cited in November for exceeding the allowed pressure in another well during testing.

    On December 17, Anterra sent a letter to its customers explaining that even limited operations had ceased at the facility and they were working with DOGGR on “extensive analysis” at the site, with a possible reopening in 2020.

    This troubled history underscores the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is not only causing climate change, the processes involved with extracting it are endangering our air, land and water. We do not have to look far to find evidence of it.

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