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LA City Planning Increases Protections For Residents Near Jefferson Oil Drilling Site in South LA

October 19, 2017

Los Angeles– On Friday, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning Office of Zoning Administration added a series of important health and safety measures to protect neighborhood interests in the community adjacent to active oil drilling near Jefferson. The Determination is in response to concerns from residents, stakeholders, City Planning, the City’s Petroleum Administrator, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. According to the letter of Determination, the Zoning Administrator stated that the “Jefferson Oil Drill Site failed to comply with the conditions of approval imposed by prior actions,” and will now be subject to harsher standards and increased monitoring.

The City’s decision compels the operator of the drill site, Sentinel Peak Resources, to make several changes in its operation including:

  • Build a 45-foot enclosure for oil drilling operations,
  • Install a fenceline air monitoring system to measure any toxic or odorous emissions,
  • Require the installation of a vapor recovery piping system along the top of the 45 ft. permanent enclosure,
  • Implement a new Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan,
  • Compel the operator to discontinue the use of diesel rigs in favor of electric rigs, and
  • Install a 24-hour noise vibration monitoring system.

“I applaud the finding by the L.A. City Zoning Administration released today, wherein the City took a strong stand to protect residents of South Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Councilmember for the area. “I’ve personally visited this site several times, and I personally know residents who have been affected by the drilling operation for years. There are 36 oil wells on less than two acres, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While there is similar oil drilling in other neighborhoods, for years the Jefferson Drill Site operated without due regard to its neighbors. I’m glad to see that we are requiring a permanent, enclosed structure like I see in other drill sites around the city. There is a robust list of other conditions that should not be reserved for more affluent communities, but all communities where drilling takes place. The Jefferson Drill Site may very well represent the most stringent set of operating conditions on a drill site in the country, and I expect nothing less in South Los Angeles.

“The neighbors of the drill site have been complaining about health impacts and a range of nuisance activity related to the drill site for years,” continued Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “They were well organized in documenting the problems, the Zoning Administration heard their voices, and the City of Los Angeles is now taking action to protect their health and wellbeing – as we should in every area where there is urban oil drilling.”

Residents in the Jefferson Park community organized for increased regulation of the site for years, including staging protests around the drill site and filing a petition. “We submitted a mountain of evidence demonstrating that the operations at the site violate the conditions established for operations and cause harm to the community,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, an Earthjustice staff attorney who represents Redeemer Community Partnership. “We are pleased that the City is finally recognizing that there are reasonable ways to ensure compliance and reduce these harms. Yet, this fight is not over. We will do everything necessary for rapid implementation of the conditions.”

“I appreciate the City is taking this action to protect our community. We’ve had our cars sprayed with oil, suffered with loud noise from operations, dealt with terrible odors blowing into our homes, and lived in fear of the hazardous chemicals trucked into our neighborhood,” said Lillian Marenco, a resident who lived two doors down from the drill site. “We will still worry about our air quality and our homes, but the fact that the City is listening to our concerns is a win for us.”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee and represents the 8th Council District in South LA. You can connect with the Councilmember at mhdcd8.com, and on social media @mhdcd8.

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