April 13, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city.

By Tor Marom

Discussions on public health in Los Angeles have been sparking back up, after an oil well in Marina Del Rey experienced a blowout on January 11. The well, which has been sealed up since 1959, was in the process of being resealed when the burst occurred.

A major point of the public dialogue on the topic is that local residents were not notified until January 18, a week after the release. At this time no health issues have been reported, but the Department of Public Health (DPH) has called for the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to put together a plan for “monitoring of chemical emissions at the site, the method to notify the community of any significant developments, and strategies to address any concerns from the public.”

The stability of this and other—older oil wells in the city are a cause for concern.

“I share the concerns of immediate neighbors, Food & Water Watch – California, and Protect Playa Now regarding the health and safety of my constituents in the area,” a statement from Councilmember Mike Bonin said in a statement, “and I echo the calls for more information, greater transparency, and a halt to any further injection of gas into the Playa del Rey storage field until we can be sure it is safe.”

While there are no active or idle oil wells in Santa Monica, there are many throughout the Westside. For a map of active, idle and sealed wells in the area, visit https://maps.conservation.ca.gov/doggr/wellfinder/#openModal/-118.41286/34.01446/13. 

A 2018 study by DPH pointed out similar risks to those being brought up now. Current zoning ordinances for the county require a 300-foot setback from residences for oil wells. That said, the ordinance does not apply to structures and wells drilled prior to the ordinance’s implementation.

A worker escaping from the scene of the blowout. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

“Notably, the Oil and Gas Strike Team found that six of the 15 facilities had wells or tanks less than 300 feet from the nearest residence or school;” the DPH study reads,“two of those sites had more than 60 wells situated less than 300 feet from occupied structures.”

The study goes on to say a 300-foot distance is not likely to mitigate the impact of a leak or burst.

“Based on the available scientific evidence, other local and state agencies have established setback distances ranging from 210 to 1,500 feet in order to protect public health and safety amidst oil and gas operations,” the study states.

While the range of 210-1,500 is an expansive gap, the DPH study brought up the results of a similar study from 2016.

“One study surveyed expert scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals regarding setback distances,” the study states, “and found that 89 [percent] of participants agreed that a minimum safe distance to unconventional oil and gas operations was a quarter of a mile (1,320 feet).”

Larger setback distances such as this are supported by Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling Los Angeles (STAND-L.A.), with the group advocating extending the setback distance in the city of Los Angeles as far as 2,500 feet.

Also mentioned within the DPH study is a lack of information needed to fully investigate the effects of oil drilling operations. Needs listed by DPH include air monitoring data, an odor surveillance systems to quickly identify hydrogen sulfide releases and toxicity testing of chemicals used in oil operations.

The report recommends a set of “next steps” for maintaining the public health. Among them is the suggestion that the setback distance be extended beyond the current 300-foot requirement, the implementation of air monitoring systems around oil and gas facilities and more routine local auditing to ensure that operators are adhering to regulations. Beyond that, the report suggests that operators develop a “Community Safety Plan” as well as an “Emergency Preparedness Plan” so as to better notify local municipalities and residents of any potential issues.

“Without immediate action, the City is complicit in the harm inflicted on thousands of Angelenos by neighborhood oil drilling,” reads the STAND-L.A. website.

“Fossil fuels are dangerous. Whether it is their production or their use, they threaten our environment and our safety,” Bonin’s statement concludes. “That is why I support aggressive measures to transition to 100% renewable energy sources, why I support the STAND-LA effort to impose a safe buffer from fossil fuel extraction and sensitive uses such as schools and residences, and why I am calling for additional investigation of this incident and greater assurances that my constituents are safe.”

Related Posts

Registration Now Open for Summer at New Roads

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

New Roads School is accepting registration for its summer program, a vibrant selection of classes and camps curated to meet...

CodeREV Inspires Kids to Code

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Budding coders, robotics engineers, game developers, animators and STEM campers are invited to join CodeREV this summer for a memorable...

YMCA Santa Monica: When School Is Out, Camp Is In

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

As the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District nears its end,  YMCA Santa Monica is setting up for its popular Summer...

Top 4 Party Boat Rentals in San Diego

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Here’s a rundown of the top 4 party boat rentals that will elevate any event to an unforgettable experience: Alana...

Venice Shorts: Media Trucks Scour Canals After Saturday’s Violent Assaults

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Just How Safe Is Venice? By Nick Antonicello Car vandalism, tool theft, break-ins, property theft, pick-pocketing at the beach, rampant...

Accents Owner Steven Hanna Reflects on Decades Long Legacy

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

For 37 years, Accents Jewelry has transcended mere commerce, evolving into a vibrant community, a crucible of creativity, and a...

Santa Monica Breakfast Club Hosts 8th Annual Mad Hatter Tea Party

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Whimsical Event Raises Funds for Local Families’ Dental Care Needs The Santa Monica Breakfast Club is gearing up for its...

Council Advances Plans for 120+ Affordable Apartments

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

The Development Aims to Serve Individuals and Families Earning Between 30 to 80% of the Area Median Income The City...

(Video) The New Menu Experience at Cassia Restaurant in Santa Monica is Delicious

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

The Southeast Asian dishes satisfy. Friendly ambiance, flavorful food, subtle cocktails, beer and wine, and scrumptious desserts. @smmirrornews The New...

Lyft Driver Charged with Sexual Assault Following Investigation

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

The Incident Occured in September By Zach Armstrong A Lyft driver who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman last year has...

SB 1509 Advances: Malibu Officials Rally Behind Negligent Operator Treatment Bill

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

Senator Stern’s Legislation Gains Momentum in Effort to Curb Reckless Driving SB 1509, the Negligent Operator Treatment bill spearheaded by...

“New Girl” Actor Sells Palisades Abode for $3.1M

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

He and His Wife Undertook a Renovation of the Unique, Two-Story Abode, Transforming It Into a Picturesque Beachfront Dwelling Actor...

Nationwide Retail Theft Scheme Leads to Five-Year Prison Sentence for Santa Monica Man

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

The Man Led a Group That Hoodwinked Department Stores Across 23 States By Zach Armstrong A Santa Monica man was...

Two Women Assaulted and Injured Near Venice Canals, LAPD Initiates Investigation

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

The Venice Community Will See an Increase in Patrols Along With Black and White Police Vehicles By Zach Armstrong An...

Report: State Farm’s California Policy Shakeup to Hit Palisades the Hardest

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

Customers Affected Will Receive Notifications Starting July 3 for Property Holders and August 20 for Commercial Apartment Holders The San...