Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019
County shuts down oil operator drilling in tar sands between Oxnard and Camarillo
In a firm rebuke to an oil company working the tar sands in the Oxnard Plain, the Ventura County Planning Commission on Thursday upheld staff recommendations that the permitting for the site be nullified following the discovery of multiple and serious violations.
PEAK Operator LLC was cited for the following:
• Unpermitted structures and construction including tanks, equipment and other storage and processing facilities.
• Wells drilled in unapproved locations and a drill site three times larger than permitted.
• Natural gas flaring in an unapproved area.
• Structures placed too close to the road, including oil storage tanks.
• Building and Safety Department issues including tank foundation anchorage and oil pumping equipment operating without safety review.
• Environmental Health Division issues involving potable water and septic tanks.
• Finally, 10 of the new oil wells were sited within a 100-year floodplain, requiring review and permitting that was not approved by Public Works.
The violations were found by county staff in April following a request by PEAK to drill 79 more wells using the risky cyclic steam method of drilling. This is the same general area where U.S. Geological Survey scientists found petroleum-related gases in the Fox Canyon Aquifer, prompting the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to issue a moratorium on new cyclic steam oil drilling there. This source supplies water to 700,000 customers in Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Camarillo, Moorpark and unincorporated Ventura County.
Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas (CFROG) applauds the proactive work by the county to identify the multiple problems at this site and protect the health and safety of residents. We are very concerned when an operator who doesn’t follow the rules is drilling in the shallow tar sands near our aquifer.
Planning Commissioners in their comments expressed concerns about the need to look at the environmental impacts of drilling, especially near water sources. The vote was 4-0, with one commissioner absent.
November 7, 2019
Proposal for former Petrochem site north of Ventura wrong for our community
A long-standing concern for Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas has been the issue of what to do with land which has been contaminated with the remnants of oil and gas infrastructure. It’s a problem we will need to tackle as we transition away from fossil fuels.
Thus we have taken an active role in advocating for an appropriate use for the now abandoned Petrochem site just north of Ventura. 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.
CFROG is encouraged when we see projects like Cenergy’s proposal for a solar farm on a former Superfund site near Fillmore. The area was once home to a Texaco refinery. We also applaud a proposal just north of the Petrochem site by the Trust for Public Land for a restoration of native riparian habitat.
The decision on Wednesday from Ventura County Planning Director Dave Ward to adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration prepared for the latest proposal for the site, an auto and contractor equipment storage yard, was disappointing and we are weighing a possible joint appeal to the Planning Commission with other groups.
Not only is this a site of questionable environmental safety but it has the compounding problem of its location in a floodplain in the delicate ecosystem of the Ventura River.
We have the following concerns:
• We question what the ultimate use of the site will actually be. The new proposal was originally touted by the owner’s land-use consulting firm as the potential site for new cars shipped in from the Port of Hueneme to be stored and prepped. But officials from the port attended the Planning Director hearing to also protest the new use and relayed that they had surveyed all their auto customers and not one had expressed interest in storing cars at this remote and controversial site.
• Emissions from the new vehicle trips proposed would lead straight into the sensitive Ojai Valley, which has its own strict rules for pollution sources due to the unique geological vulnerability of the area.
• It is located just over a mile away from an area listed by CalEnviro Screen as an Environmental Justice Community, already overburdened by pollution. The largest oil field in the county also surrounds the site.
We believe it is time for the ecologically sensitive area north of Ventura to move from polluting uses of the land to those which contribute to sustainable practices and preservation of this valuable natural area.
January 10, 2017 - Un-permitted exploding oil storage tank puts water at risk
State Water Board Investigates Impact to Water from exploding oil tank
Oil tank that exploded in Upper Ojai was un-permitted.
Upper Ojai, CA – An un-permitted crude oil tank that exploded in Upper Ojai on Aug. 5, 2016 caused a discharge of crude oil and water, which may have impacted nearby surface and/or groundwater sources, including Sisar Creek. The operator, Silver Exploration Company (Silver X), failed to obtain the proper permits from the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD) prior to installing the tank.
“The Regional Board is concerned that the water quality in the area may have been impacted or potentially impacted by the unauthorized release. The tank explosion has caused petroleum and Buckeye Platinum residue to be deposited where it may impact groundwater or Sisar Creek, a water of the State,” states the Investigative Order dated Jan. 9 issued by the Water Board. The Water Board is the “public agency with primary responsibility for the protection of ground and surface water quality within the major portions of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.”
“This investigative order and report show an oil and gas operator cutting corners and that's why the public needs our local agencies to be vigilant in protecting our water,” said Kimberly Rivers, Executive Director of CFROG. “What good are laws and clean up requirements if they are not fully enforced? The report reveals the exploding tank had no permit, Best Management Practices were not being used and the tank did not have a sensor that could have prevented the explosion. We hope our regulators wake up and see what many neighborhoods have known for decades, that some oil and gas operators don't follow the rules.”
On Aug. 5, 2016 in Upper Ojai an un-permitted crude oil storage tank exploded, and according to the California State Water Resources Control board the explosion led to a discharge of oil and water that may have impacted groundwater and surface water in the area, including Sisar Creek.
September 23, 2016 - Senator Fran Pavley to be recognized at CFROG event as Environmental Watchdog
On Friday, September 30 at the Rhythm & Soul for CFROG fundraising event Senator Fran Pavley (Dist. 27) will be recognized as the CFROG 2016 Environmental Watchdog. She is terming out of office after 16 years of service in the State Assembly and Senate.
August 30, 2016 - VC Air Pollution Control Hearing Board Puts Crimson on Notice to Expect Subpoena
August 29, 2016 - the Ventura County Air Pollution Control Hearing Board voted unanimously to issue a subpoena to Crimson Pipeline requiring them to report why their pipelines have been shut down - if they are not turned back on prior to the next meeting in November. Pipelines in the South Mountain area - Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, Moorpark - were shut down for "unschedule maintenance." The oil company has had to seek a variance in order to allow trucking of oil because the pipelines are shut down.
"The APCD hearing board deserves praise for asking serious and informed questions and for the rare and important step of voting unanimously to force the pipeline company to answer questions about why the Santa Paula area pipelines are shut down," said John Brooks, President of CFROG. "Until they are operating again the pollution from up to 20 tanker trucks per day will spew into our air."
June 24, 2016 - County was warned about old pipelines - Hall Canyon Oil Spill
On June 23 a pipeline leak caused tens of thousands of gallons to flow into a creek bed from the Ventura hillsides. This is light crude and highly flammable.
"The crude oil originating in the Aera Energy LLC Ventura Oil Field is light and highly volatile. This spill could have been a major fire had it ignited. This is all the more reason for greater public awareness of the hazardous high-pressure pipeline below the City of Ventura." - Anneliese Anderle, CFROG Advisory Board Members, Petroleum Engineer and retired Senior Engineer for California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.
June 14, 2016 - CFROG working to protect and strengthen environmental protections of the Ojai Valley Area Plan
General Plan Update comes to Oak View
Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m., the Ventura County Planning Department will host a workshop at the Oak View Community Center, 18 Valley Road, Oak View, to receive input from Ojai Valley residents regarding changes to the Ventura County General Plan. Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas (CFROG) is participating in the General Plan update process to preserve and strengthen the Ojai Valley Area Plan to ensure all oil and gas projects are approved with strong publichealth, safety and environmental protections. These efforts will have an ongoing impact across the county for oil and gas projects over the next 20 years – the life of the General Plan.
June 22, 2016 - County sets dangerous new precedent- says oil tanker trucks can make illegal turns.
On June 21 in a three to two vote the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved an oil project in Upper Ojai that includes allowing oil tanker trucks to use a dangerous intersection and violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Quotes from CFROG on issues in this appeal -
"The planning staff was trying to change a major safety rule without proof that the risk is gone,” said John Brooks, President of CFROG and Oak View resident. “Thanks to CFROG's appeal, the Board of Supervisors that banned large oil tankers in 1980 for safety, will get a another chance to show that it cares more about protecting drivers on Highway 150 than the profits of a rule breaking oil company."
"The Ojai Valley remains vulnerable to unhealthful air pollution and smog due to topographic features of steep valley walls and air flow patterns,” said Dr. Steve Colome’, an Ojai resident and CFROG Advisory Board member. “To properly evaluate the air pollution potential of projects, Ventura County should not be using circular and convoluted logic to ignore actual emissions."Colome holds a molecular biology degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate of Science from Harvard University. He has served for a decade on the South Coast Air Quality Management District and served on the faculties of UC Los Angeles and UC Irvine.
May 11, 2016 - Bentley Well Project Needs Abandonment Plan