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.