Update 2 - Status of Oil Fields Following Thomas Fire in Ventura County
TONIGHT, Thurs. Dec 14, 5:00 pm UPPER OJAI TOWN HALL with Fire Command Reps at SUMMIT SCHOOL.
providing information on the situation in Upper Ojai.
First, all at CFROG would like to express our condolences to the family, friends and fellow fire fighters of the fire fighter who has perished fighting this fire in the Fillmore area.
This update includes the following:
- Fire & Oil Field Map
- Pipeline Update from State Fire Marshall
- Reports of Burning Seeps/Noxious odors/smoke, need for P100 masks *with vapor cartridge in those areas.
1. Fire perimeter & Oil Fields
Here is a map prepared by CFROG Advisor Vickie Peters GIS showing (Dec. 12) the fire perimeter and the location of oil fields. All data is official state GIS sourced. Here is our first UPDATE (Dec. 12), which includes information from the California Department of Conservation (state oil and gas regulator) regarding what is happening in the oil fields after a fire incident.
Pipeline Update from State Fire Marshall/CalFire
CalFire is the office of the State Fire Marshall. The State Fire Marshall oversees intrastate (within the state) hazardous liquid pipelines, this includes petroleum pipelines that are carrying product to be refined, but it does not include the smaller “gathering” pipelines within oil fields that move oil and other fluids from wells to tanks etc. The State Fire Marshall oversees pipelines such as the ones involved in the recent Hall Canyon leak/spill (Ventura) and Refugio leak/spill (Santa Barbara).
Pipeline update from State Fire Marshall who oversees the major petroleum pipelines (not gas pipelines) – CFROG contacted Assembly member Monique Limón’s office after no response directly from the State Fire Marshall and this report was forwarded to us from her office:
CFROG reached out to several agencies and elected officials asking about protocol in oil fields following a major fire incident and this morning we received the following response from Benjamin Turner, Assistant Director of Government and Environmental Relations at the Department of Conservation, which includes our state oil and gas regulatory agency the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).
We also received an update from Aera Energy at 12:52pm Dec. 12 - it is posted below.
“While there are no specific regulations for reactivation following an incident, such as in the case of the Thomas Fire, the Division has regulations that address various incidents. For instance, under general requirements (California Code of Regulations 1722), unauthorized releases are required to be reported to the State Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Division district office, and any other agencies specified in the operator’s plan, which can include other State and local agencies. In addition, incidents such as blowouts, fires, serious accidents and significant gas and water leaks or similar threats to health and safety are required to be reported to the Division district office.
Upon notification as required above, the District office staff obtain information regarding the incident. The Division district offices are staffed to receive calls 24-hr a day, 365 days out of the year from an answering service for after hour calls. Depending on the severity of the incident, the field engineer may notify his or her supervisors, who may also report the incident to the Division State Oil and Gas Supervisor, as well as Department leads. The field engineer may also perform an initial inspection and then follow-up inspections. For instance, information was received from oil operators for their leases in the Ventura oil field. Given the restrictions in the area, the Division will not conduct an initial inspection while the fire is ongoing. Our staff will however conduct follow-up inspections.
CFROG Wins! Ventura County oil and gas project approval violated local and state laws.
By John Brooks
CFROG co-founder and Board member
Ventura County Superior Court judge, Hon. Glen M. Reiser not only criticized the majority vote of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors for sidestepping analysis and mitigation in the name of expediency in an Upper Ojai Valley oil and gas project, he also held Ventura County planning staff responsible for misrepresenting facts and stated staff showed a deep seated feeling of dislike to the concerns of local residents.
Citizens For Responsible Oil & Gas (CFROG) filed legal action in 2016 against Ventura County because the planning department, and ultimately the Board of Supervisors - in a three to two vote - approved a project adding three new wells and allowing oil tanker trucks to use a narrow rural road and bridge in the Upper Ojai Valley. CFROG knew the county violated policies of the Ojai Valley Area Plan, part of the county General Plan, that mandate any project that will emit over 5 lbs. per day of particular air toxins be found to have a “significant” impact thus triggering a more in-depth environmental review. And the county had failed to explain why with increased and faster traffic, and more trucks servicing more oil and gas wells in the area resulted in a safer intersection today, whereas in the 70’s the county prohibited oil tanker trucks from using Koenigstein Road because they deemed it unsafe.
Here is a video prepared by county staff showing an oil tanker truck turning onto the road.
In his Nov. 14 ruling in favor of CFROG, Reiser ordered the county to “set aside” the project approval and prepare a “revised” environmental study “consistent with” the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the entire ruling. This means the county must include an analysis of the significant air quality and traffic impacts and alternatives and methods to reduce the impacts for the expansion of the Agnew Lease.
This decision will have powerful ripple effects for all oil and gas permit modifications and renewals in Ventura County and it calls into question the legality of several aspects of how the county planning department processes oil and gas permits.
Santa Paula -
TONIGHT , Monday, October 2 - at 6:30pm at the Santa Paula City Council meeting, the City Manager of Santa Paula will provide an update of the permit application submitted to Ventura County Planning from companies currently under arraignment by the Ventura County District Attorney - Santa Clara Waste Water and Green Compass - both were involved in the 2014 explosion that led to toxic plumes and injured firefighters.
HERE is the Determination of Application Completeness from Ventura County dated Sept. 20, 2017.
Santa Paula Times article March 22, 2017 - another employee pleads guilty.
LA Times: 37 treated after bizarre explosion. Nov. 19, 2014.
KTLA investigation into explosion continues - Nov. 19, 2014.
Santa Paula Times, 7 arrested in connection with explosion, Aug. 14, 2015.