Local oil company Venoco is proposing to return one of its Ellwood oil leases (PRC 421) to production using an existing pier. The project would reopen the well at Pier 421-2 (closed in since 1994) and shut down and remove neighboring Pier 421-1. Oil extracted from Pier 421-2 would be piped to the Ellwood Onshore Facility to be processed. A full description of the project as well as the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) can be found here.
Channelkeeper testified at a public workshop on the DEIR convened by the State Lands Commission on December 11th, highlighting the lack of a current Hazardous Materials Analysis as well as troubling language that would delay removal if hazardous materials were found. We also submitted more extensive written comments on the DEIR outlining our concerns about the project’s close proximity to several designated Environmentally Sensitive Habitats, including Bell Creek and Lagoon, Tecolote Creek and Lagoon, Naples Reef, and Devereux Slough, which serve as critical habitat for several endangered, threatened, and rare species, including snowy plovers, southern steelhead trout, and tidewater gobies. Although the DEIR indicates that some improvements will be made, the proposed project would use infrastructure that is several decades old and has a history of requiring emergency repairs. An oil spill here would be devastating to the sensitive habitats and species in the area, and we feel that the DEIR fails to adequately address how impacts will be avoided and mitigated during construction and operation. The State Lands Commission will review comments submitted and expects to issue a Final EIR in early 2014.
Photo: AMEC, DEIR for PRC 421 Recommissioning Project, pg4-60